U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., has been a member of Congress for 27 years - long enough to know that the law is the law, regardless of what a president may say in an executive order.
Mollohan was among about half a dozen lawmakers who caved in to pressure from President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday, casting votes in favor of the White House health care bill. The group, led by U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., had insisted for weeks that they could not, in good conscience, vote for the measure. It opened up the possibility of federal funding for abortions, Stupak explained.
But on Sunday, Stupak announced his group would support the bill. That was as a result of assurances by Obama that he would issue an executive order requiring that no federal money be used for abortions.
Presidents issue such orders frequently, in order to steer policy by federal agencies. But executive orders cannot amend the law - not even by a miniscule amount. Obama and Stupak's coalition, including Mollohan, know that.
In other words, Obama's executive order was intended to provide nothing more than political cover for Mollohan, Stupak and others in the coalition. The bill they claimed to oppose will become law - and their votes ensured that.
The bill was approved by a vote of 219-212 in the House. Had Mollohan and others in the Stupak coalition not caved in to Obama and Pelosi, the measure would have been defeated.
Enormous political pressure was exerted on behalf of the bill by Obama, Pelosi and other liberals in Washington. The relative ease with which they won the Stupak coalition votes may have surprised them. Clearly, Mollohan and others in the coalition wanted badly to vote for the bill - and were willing, in effect, to trade their principles for a meaningless piece of paper.
Obama's health care bill is bad for the nation. It will force tens of millions of Americans, including many in Mollohan's 1st District of West Virginia, to pay more for health care. It will limit the health care choices of many.
In voting for the measure, Mollohan has demonstrated once again that representing his constituents is a secondary concern. Placating Obama and Pelosi comes first.