Democratic Leaders: ‘We Have The Votes’ To Pass Health Reform In Historic Vote
News organizations are reporting that Democrats are "poised" to pass sweeping health reform legislation Sunday afternoon, as President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea for the bill.
Reuters: "An upbeat House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer predicted victory in Sunday's vote on the biggest revamp of the $2.5 trillion healthcare system in four decades, although even the most optimistic Democrats expected a razor-thin margin. 'Clearly, we believe we have the votes,' Hoyer told reporters. 'We expect we have the votes to pass the Senate bill'" (Whitesides, 3/20).
The New York Times: "President Obama, in an extraordinary session with the Democratic caucus just a day before a climactic vote on major health care legislation, made a forceful case for health care reform on both policy and political grounds. In closing his remarks to House Democrats, Mr. Obama told them they were on the verge of making history. 'You have a chance to make good on the promises you made,' Mr. Obama said. 'This is one of those moments. ... It is in your hands. It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow'" (Herszenhorn and Hulse, 3/20).
The Associated Press: "Leaders exuded confidence as they defused thorny problems in the countdown to a landmark vote. ... Democratic leaders and Obama focused last-minute lobbying efforts on two groups of Democrats: 37 who voted against an earlier bill in the House and 40 who voted for it only after first making sure it would include strict abortion limits that now have been modified" (Alonso-Zaldivar and Fram, 3/20).
Los Angeles Times: "It was a day of fast-moving decisions as Democrats went into a weekend of arm-twisting and cajoling on the issue that has monopolized Washington for more than a year. Last-minute issues from abortion language to Medicare payments for rural medicine had to be dealt with. ...Democrats are at least close or have passed the 216 votes they need in the House. Last-minute announcements by [Reps. Dennis] Cardoza, Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Gerry Connelly (D-Va.) swelled the number" (Levey and Muskal. 3/20).
NPR: "Probably the most public indication that House Democratic leaders really do have the 216 votes for the bill lined up is the fact that they cut off negotiations with a small group of anti-abortion Democratic lawmakers who have been holding out for stronger abortion restrictions than those already in the Senate-passed bill" (Rovner, 3/20).
CongressDaily: "The House Rules Committee posted a manager's amendment that includes a provision sought by some of the final holdouts that attempts to relieve geographic disparities in Medicare payments. ... Leaders also are trying to bring on board anti-abortion Democrats who are unhappy with the Senate language on federal funding of abortion by shopping the idea of an executive order to them that would clarify current law. The idea is one some anti-abortion Democrats are willing to consider" (Edney and House, 3/20).
Politico: "House Democrats got some reassurance that the Senate will pass its package of changes to the Senate bill today when Majority Leader Harry Reid sent Speaker Pelosi a letter reaffirming his chamber's commitment to passing the reconciliation bill. The letter, which outlines his members' support for the bill, was signed by more than 50 Democrats, Reid told Pelosi." Politico posted a copy of the letter (Frates, 3/20).
The Washington Post: "House leaders announced that they would take a separate vote on the Senate version of the health-care bill Sunday, rejecting an earlier, much-criticized strategy that would have permitted them to 'deem' the measure passed without an explicit vote. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said the House will take three votes on Sunday: first, on a resolution that will set the terms of debate; second, on a package of amendments to the Senate bill that have been demanded by House members; and third, on the Senate bill itself" (Pershing, Kane and Montgomery, 3/20).
CBS News published a "rough estimate of the timing" Sunday:
"2 p.m.: The House will debate for one hour the rules of debate for the reconciliation bill and the Senate bill.
3 p.m.: The House will vote to end debate and vote on the rules of the debate.
3:15 p.m.: The House will debate the reconciliation package for two hours.
5:15 p.m.: The House will vote on the reconciliation package.
5:30 p.m.: The House will debate for 15 minutes on a Republican substitute and then vote on the substitute.
6 p.m.: The House will vote on the final reconciliation package.
6:15 p.m.: If the reconciliation bill passes, the House will immediately vote on the Senate bill, without debate"
Meanwhile, CQ Politics reports that "House Republicans may be on the verge of losing their long fight against the Democratic health care overhaul, but GOP leaders were all smiles on Saturday as protesters from the anti-reform tea party movement swarmed the Capitol complex. ... Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) congratulated his colleagues on their efforts over the past few weeks but reminded them the fight was not over. 'We're now about 24 hours from Armageddon, 24 hours from Members casting a vote on one of the biggest bills they'll ever vote for in their careers,' Boehner said. 'We are right there'" (Kucinich, 3/20).