Pumped-Up Dems Fall Into Line on Health Reform

Obama's speech changed tone on Hill, but GOP votes still elusive

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 11, 2009 7:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – After a dispiriting summer for the Democrats, Barack Obama's address has energized the majority party, with progressives to Blue Dogs lining up behind the president. As Politico notes, the greatest change in tone came from Nancy Pelosi and other legislators who had insisted on a public option, many of whom are now agreeing with Obama that it is preferable but not necessary. But moderate Republicans were less impressed; Sen. George Voinovich, seen as a possible "yes" vote, said he was underwhelmed.

Progressives like Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who had once threatened to vote against any bill without a public option, enthusiastically backed Obama's speech, as did moderates whose votes had also been in doubt. Still, the White House and Democratic leadership have a way to go if they want to get 60 votes in the Senate. "I don’t think he solved a thing in terms of votes," said Rep. Charlie Rangel. "But I think he did a lot in changing the atmosphere."

President Barack Obama addresses nurses about health care reform, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009, in the Eisenhower Executive Office building on the White House campus in Washington.
President Barack Obama addresses nurses about health care reform, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009, in the Eisenhower Executive Office building on the White House campus in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009, as she arrived for a meeting on health care at the office of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009, as she arrived for a meeting on health care at the office of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greets Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greets Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel, laughs as he is handed a copy of H.R. 3200, the America Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel, laughs as he is handed a copy of H.R. 3200, the America Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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The president’s speech breathed new life into what we are doing. The president is talking about what we are talking about. That is very helpful. We’re very close to being in sync here. - Sen. Max Baucus to the New York Times

Are you surprised that people are focused on the part of the speech they liked best? That always happens, and we all do that. But I think we are making progress. - Rep. Steny Hoyer, House majority leader

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