Weiner: Healthcare reform “might be dead” if Brown wins

Congressman says loss of Democratic Senate supermajority could spell doom for bill

Topics: Healthcare Reform, War Room, 2010 Elections, Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.,

Weiner: Healthcare reform "might be dead" if Brown winsMassachusetts residents cast their votes in a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, in Seekonk, Mass. Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. Democrat candidate, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, and independent Joseph L. Kennedy, no relation to Sen. Kennedy, are in the race. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)(Credit: Associated Press)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confident — at least in public — that healthcare reform will get passed, even without a Democratic supermajority in the Senate. Not all of her members seem to agree.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who’s something of a leader among House liberals, said that if Republican Scott Brown wins the special election being held today to replace Sen. Ted Kennedy, “I think you can make a pretty good argument that healthcare might be dead.”

Weiner made this prediction despite the apparent hope of his party’s leaders, including those in the White House, that they’ll be able to get a bill passed by having the House approve the version already passed by the Senate, thus avoiding another round of votes in the upper chamber.

“I think it’s going to be very hard to ask us in the House to take the Senate bill,” Weiner said. “Everyone acknowledges it was a worse bill. Everyone said the only reason we were passing the Senate bill is to move the ball forward.”

Similarly, a Web site run by the congressman says he “will oppose the final bill unless it represents a genuine improvement on the Senate bill.” (Hat-tip to Jake Tapper.) He might not be the only one to do so, and given the narrow margin by which the House passed its version of the legislation, that could spell trouble.

Of course, this all still rests on the outcome of the special election — though most observers believe it unlikely, it’s still possible that Democrat Martha Coakley could pull off a win and preserve her party’s 60 seat Senate majority.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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