House Democrats Prepare For Sunday Vote On Health Reconciliation Bill
The Associated Press: "In seeking enough votes to overhaul the nation's health care system, President Barack Obama is telling nervous Democratic lawmakers that their political fates are linked to the bill's passage, discouraging the notion that they can save themselves by opposing it, House members say." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs "who said the president has spoken with more than three dozen Democratic lawmakers since Monday, repeatedly sidestepped questions of whether Obama has told them his presidency's fate depends on the legislation's passage" (Babington, 3/19).
The Wall Street Journal: "With a handful of votes still in doubt, President Barack Obama canceled a long-planned trip to Asia to stay and lobby lawmakers, fighting for every vote in advance of a showdown on the House floor expected Sunday" (Hitt and Adamy, 3/19).
NPR: "Clearly House Democratic leaders are hoping the news on the bill's costs will help win over those last few votes they've so far not been able to round up. But just in case not, they brought to their news conference some actual constituents. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all but conceded that she doesn't yet have the 216 votes she needs" (Rovner, 3/18).
"For a group of particularly jittery Democrats, the better question may be this: Who will be allowed to slip away?", The New York Times reports. "There are, of course, very few votes to spare. Yet there are some. And even most Republican leaders concede that the mystery is not so much whether Democrats will reach the magic number of 216, but rather whose names will be included as yes votes in the final count" (Zeleny, 3/18).
In a story headlined "Setbacks Zero Out Gains in Whip Count," Roll Call writes: "Leaders got two pieces of good news, with retiring Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and freshman Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), who voted 'no' on the original House bill, announcing they would back reform this time around. But those gains were offset by the losses of Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) who flipped their previous support to opposition" (Newmyer, 3/18).
Politico reports that Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., "a frequent critic of the legislation," said he would vote yes. Meanwhile, some Democrats who voted for the House health bill the first time around, on Thursday "sided with Republicans on a muddled procedural vote that the GOP framed as a bid to force Democrats to abandon the so-called Slaughter Solution, a procedural maneuver that would 'deem' the Senate bill passed without a direct vote. The group of Democrats included New York Rep. Michael Arcuri, Pennsylvania Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Virginia Rep. Thomas Perriello (O'Connor, 3/18).
In a separate story, NPR visited Perriello's office and several others to witness the pressure some members are facing (Elliott, 3/19).
USA Today: "At least 10 Democratic fence-sitters were invited to the White House as Obama signed a jobs bill. ... Seeking to sway moderates, Obama cited deficit reduction as 'but one virtue of a reform that will bring new accountability to the insurance industry and greater economic security to all Americans'" (Wolf, 3/19).
Los Angeles Times: "House Rules Committee chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), whose committee will put the legislation together on Saturday ahead of the Sunday vote, expressed confidence that the package would clear the House. She also discounted suggestion that the Senate might not be able to approve the reconciliation package, pointing to a written pledge from a majority of Democrats to push it through in the face of Republican opposition" (Levey and Muskal, 3/18).
Senators are getting ready, The Hill reports. "Democrats are confident they can pass the package with a simple majority; Republicans agree that is likely. What's in question is how many of its provisions will fall to procedural objections." Items in a reconciliation bill are limited to those that have budgetary implications and those that are deemed to not affect the budget may be tossed from the bill. "A Democratic leadership aide said the reconciliation package would hit the (Senate) floor as early as Tuesday" (Bolton, 3/18).
KHN's Morning Edition has additional news summaries related to the pressure faced by undecided lawmakers.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.