Margin of Error to Pass Waxman-Markey
The talking point people always reference when boasting about the virtues of Nancy Pelosi is her voting counting skills. It’s surprisingly difficult and genuinely valuable to get an accurate count when trying to push through controversial legislation.
So I found the 219 vote total in the Waxman-Markey House floor vote interesting. Lloyd Doggett D-TX voted yes, but said he’d vote against it during the floor debate. Taking Doggett’s vote away you get 218 votes, which is the much discussed minimum number of votes needed to pass. So did Pelosi really go into the vote with only 218 votes and no margin for error?
I would have thought you just don’t go into a vote as important as this with no margin for error, although it’s possible Pelosi had no choice. So what happened? Did they lose votes, did Pelosi know Doggett was really a yes vote, were there votes on the sidelines or among the no-votes? Likely a combination of more then one of the above factors explains the outcome.
Looking forward the House will have to vote again if the legislation gets through the Senate once they go through the conference process. Optimistically you could assume Pelosi has 2-3 votes in reserve, pessimistically you could plan on losing Doggett’s vote once the Senate weakens the bill further, either you’re talking about a frightening small margin of error in the House.