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Published January 21 2010

Pomeroy’s office mum on how he would vote

North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy’s office didn’t specify Wednesday how the incumbent Democrat would vote on the Senate’s draft of health care reform if it comes to the House floor.

One option for congressional Democrats to bypass a difficult Senate vote on health care reform – and an almost-guaranteed Republican filibuster once Massachusetts’ Sen.-elect Scott Brown is seated – would be to have the House vote on the same bill the Senate passed Christmas Eve.

If that happens, the legislation would not need to go through conference committee negotiations, nor would it require another Senate vote before going to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Given the potential for that prospect and Pomeroy’s re-election bid this year, national Republicans challenged the nineterm congressman to explain how he’d vote on the Senate bill.

“North Dakotans, like the folks in Massachusetts, have expressed their dislike for Obama’s governmentrun health care bill,” Republican National Committee spokesman LeRoy Coleman said in a statement. “And yet the first time around, Representative Pomeroy refused to listen to the will of the people.”

Coleman continued: “With the election of Scott Brown, Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi is planning to ram the Senate government health care takeover bill through the House. Will Representative Pomeroy turn a deaf ear to the growing chorus of North Dakotans that don’t want (the) bill?”

When asked if Pomeroy would vote for or against the Senate bill, his legislative director, Melanie Rhinehart Van Tassell, replied: “As for prospects for the Senate bill in the House, it’s much too early to tell. But one thing is for sure, Congressman Pomeroy will keep working hard to deliver for North Dakota.”

After the House passed its version of health care reform in mid-November, Pomeroy stressed that he voted for the bill in order to move the process forward, but said at that time that he was “completely withholding judgment on final passage.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541.