WASHINGTON -- Rep. Dina Titus is emerging as a potential swing vote as Democratic leaders search for support to pass a final health care reform bill.
Titus, D-Nev., voted for the House bill that passed 220-215 in November.
But she has spoken out against a Senate version that passed Dec. 24. She did not like its "Cadillac" tax on certain high- value plans, the special deals for states such as Nebraska and Florida, and certain consumer protections she said were not as strong as in the House version.
Changes being proposed by President Barack Obama have addressed some of those problems, Titus said. But as House and Senate Democrats try to forge a final compromise, and devise a way to get it passed over what is expected to be almost unanimous Republican opposition, Titus said she has not committed her vote.
"I am waiting to see what the fix is," Titus said Thursday. "I am not going to commit until I see not only the substance of the fix but what is going to be the process. These things change by the day."
One thing that is unclear is how the voting process would work under the "reconciliation" procedure Democrats are likely to use to overcome Republican obstacles in the Senate.
Like many House Democrats, Titus is leery of voting first on controversial bills only to have the Senate dither. She said she would be "hesitant" to vote for a health care bill without assurances the Senate could finish the job.
White House officials reportedly have been warning Democrats that if they voted for the bill last fall and then vote against the upcoming one, they risk being labeled as flip-floppers in their campaigns this fall.
But Titus said she has laid out her principles for what she will support in the bill and if they not met, she will vote no.
"I want to see it do what I have said all along: Bring down the cost of health care; provide more accessibility; preserve Medicare," she said. "Those are the things I am looking for in the bill, not whether it gets me re-elected.
"If the Senate bill is not fixed, that is not a flip-flop," she said. "I see that as standing by your convictions.
"I think the general public in my district thinks something needs to be done, and until they can see a final bill and can understand what is in there, there is a lot of uncertainty," she said.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760.