Health Reform Crucial Weekend: Democratic Leaders Predict Victory, Abortion Still Stumbling Block
News outlets are focusing on President Barack Obama's planned meeting with all the House Democrats today as they prepare for Sunday's crucial vote on health care overhaul.
The Associated Press: "Obama decided to make one final, personal appeal to rank-and-file Democrats, arranging a visit to the Capitol Saturday afternoon. Republicans, unanimous in opposition to the bill, complained anew about its cost and reach. ... 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 Espo, 3/20).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told NPR this morning "that when the time comes tomorrow to vote on the Democratic-designed legislation to overhaul the nation's health care system, 'we're going to have the votes' to pass the plan." NPR also report that Hoyer said "'there are people (House members) who have not publicly indicated that they will support this legislation,' but will step forward to give it the 216 necessary votes for passage. ressed by host Scott Simon on whether he and other Democratic leaders are offering wavering members special deals -- in particular, money for projects in their districts -- to secure their votes, Hoyer said no" (Memmott, 3/20).
Politico: "'I feel very sure ... the bill will pass,' House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the party's designated vote-counter, said Friday. Clyburn's declaration was supported by a gusher of politically vulnerable Democratic freshmen who made clear Friday that they would support the bill."
Reps. Scott Murphy (N.Y.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), John Boccieri (Ohio), Dina Titus (Nev.) and Tom Perriello (Va.) all said they would back the bill. Boccieri, Murphy and Kosmas all voted no on the bill's first trip through the House, as did Rep. Allen Boyd, a veteran Florida Democrat who announced Friday that he would support the final legislation" (Allen, 3/19).
The Washington Post: "House leaders publicly predicted victory, but they kept private their own vote count as they continued to woo the undeclared Democrats. The largest clutch of targets in that lobbying effort is antiabortion Democrats; garnering their votes would ensure the bill's passage, senior Democrats said Friday."
"Those holdout lawmakers, most of whom hail from the Midwest and are Catholic, generally support the $940 billion package and its aim of providing coverage for 32 million more Americans. But they have voiced objections to how the Senate bill would handle insurance coverage of abortions. ... One potential compromise could include staging a vote, separate from the health bill, on stronger antiabortion provisions (Kane, Montgomery and Pershing, 3/20).
Roll Call: "House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) for the first time admitted that Republicans were not likely to defeat health care reform legislation. Boehner continued, however, to lambaste Democrats over pushing through the health care overhaul with strong-arm tactics in his Republican response to President Barack Obama's Saturday radio address. ... in his prepared remarks, Boehner said 'Republicans can't beat the bill, but the American people can,' and he urged constituents to make their voices heard" (Newhauser, 3/20).
CNN lays out what might happen, and when: "Will the health care fight end with the expected vote by the House this Sunday? Not exactly. There's the health care bill that the Senate approved in December - that's what the House will vote on first on Sunday. If it passes, it becomes law.
"Then there is a package of changes that the House wants made to the Senate bill, which is being called the reconciliation measure. The House will vote on that second. The Senate will vote on that package of changes to its bill next week. CNN also discusses the "deem and pass" procedure (Tanneeru, 3/19).