U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal has attracted some immediate national attention for his decision to resign from Congress – from those calculating what his absence might mean for a health care bill:
This was posted by National Review’s Jim Geraghty:
Apparently Rep. Nathan Deal, Republican of Georgia, thinks he can help his gubernatorial campaign by being known as, “The House Republican who helped pass Obamacare.” If he resigns, as rumored, the Democrats will only need 216* for a majority.
Erick Erickson at Redstate, another conservative blogger (and a Karen Handel supporter), makes the same point:
At a time that every vote counts on health care, Deal resigning means the Democrats have one less vote they have to pick up to take over 1/6th of our economy.
That means the total number of House members will be 431 — and the magic number to pass a bill drops to 216 as of Tuesday, March 9. That’s still no easy task — but every vote counts in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bid to pass health care reform.
Deal’s announcement comes a day after the resignation of an all-but-sure “yes” vote for Democrats: Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii. Abercrombie, like Deal, is running for governor, and wants to concentrate on his campaign full-time.
The other two vacancies were also previously held by Democrats who were likely to support the health care bill: Robert Wexler, D-Fla., stepped down from his House seat in January to become executive director of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation; and Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., passed away last month.
Many have also tossed in the fact that Deal’s resignation brings an immediate end to a congressional ethics investigation.
But a conversation with one Georgia Republican insider turned up this: Deal resigned from Congress despite the blowback on health care and ethics – not because of it.
The Republican race for governor has been in a state of stasis for months, and with each passing day state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s position solidifies. To Republicans who see Roy Barnes in their rear-view mirror, the prospect isn’t a good one.
GOP behind-the-sceners know that their support, now scattered among several candidates, will have to be consolidated if Oxendine is to be stopped.
Deal was simply reacting to pressure from prominent Republican leaders to, as one contact put it, “drastically re-commit” himself.
My AJC colleague Bob Keefe says Deal was already spending more and more time in Georgia. Deal by far has the worse voting record of any member of the Georgia congressional delegation. He’s missed more than half of all votes in 2010.
Here are the stats that Keefe sends us:
– 2009-Q1: Deal missed 9.2% of votes, 16 of 174
– 2009-Q2: Deal missed 24.1% of votes, 73 of 303;
– 2009-Q3: Deal missed 5.2% of votes, 14 of 268;
– 2009-Q4: Deal missed 32.1% of votes, 79 of 246;
– 2010-Q1: Deal missed 50.8% of votes, 33 of 65;
For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.