Pelosi: A ‘Climactic Health Care Vote’ As Early As Next Week
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled Friday that votes on a health care overhaul could come by the end of next week.
Politico: During a Friday meeting with Democratic members, Pelosi told lawmakers to "clear their schedules for next weekend." She also promised "to stay in session until the landmark vote, people present said afterwards." Speculation continues that Pelosi doesn't yet have the votes lined up to pass a reform bill, but that she's close. "In addition, it looks like House Democrats won't have to vote directly on a Senate bill they really don't like. The speaker hasn't made a final decision, but she told her rank-and-file during the meeting that the plan now is to craft the legislation in such a way that it would 'deem' the Senate bill passed once the House approves the package of fixes." That means members would only vote on the reconciliation bill that needs only 51 votes to pass in the Senate. Additionally, the president postponed a scheduled overseas trip -- now set for March 21, "and Pelosi said 'I am delighted the president will be here for the passage of the bill. It is going to be historic'" (O'Connor, 3/12).
The New York Times: The White House and Congressional leaders said they would press for votes next week "[a]s early as Thursday or Friday" with the plan being to "first pass the health care bill already approved by the Senate in December, clearing the way for Mr. Obama to sign it, and then approve a package of changes in a separate bill that the Senate would also pass by a simple majority vote." Absolute timing still is in flux as "House Democrats did not yet have in hand the legislative language of the budget bill that they intend to push through fast on the heels of the health care package - the 'reconciliation' that dots and crosses the package's fine print. Nor did they yet have the Congressional Budget Office's estimate of its costs." Next steps could occur on Monday with the House Budget Committee (Pear and Herszenhorn, 3/12).
The Washington Post: "'It won't be very long and we'll be making a real difference in the life of the American people,' she said, declaring herself 'very exhilarated' by the tone in the Democratic caucus Friday morning." But she also said there "would be no public option in the legislation. 'We had it; we wanted it,' she told reporters. 'It's not in reconciliation. ... We're talking about something that's not going to be part of the legislation'" (Weiner, 3/12).