Democrats Confident for Vote on Health Care Reform Legislation


Democratic leaders are expressing confidence that they will be able to gather enough votes by this weekend to pass health reform legislation, the Washington Post reports (Eggen, Washington Post, 3/15).

On "Fox News Sunday," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said there was "growing momentum" in the House for passage of a health reform bill (Murray, Roll Call, 3/14)

 Gibbs, during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," added, "This is the week where we will have this important vote. I do think this is the climactic week for health care reform" (Quaid, AP/Washington Times, 3/14).

On CNN's "State of the Union," David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama, said, "I think we will have the votes to pass this," adding, "Obviously, this is a struggle ... but I think we're moving in the right direction" (Roll Call, 3/14).

Axelrod added, "I am absolutely confident that we are going to be successful. I believe that there is a sense of urgency on the part of members of Congress" to enact reforms after recent news about large insurance premium increases (AP/Washington Times, 3/14).

This Week's Reform Timeline

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she was hopeful that the House could hold a final vote on the Senate bill by March 21, but added that the timeline relied on the delivery of a complete analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (Edney, CongressDaily, 3/12).

House Democrats expect to receive the full CBO score on Monday.

The House Budget Committee will then vote on the corrections bill, which would then go to the House Rules Committee, where committee Chair Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) could join it with the Senate bill (Washington Post, 3/15).

Aides said that the final vote could come as soon as Thursday, but more likely by Friday or Saturday (Washington Post, 3/15).

Clyburn Unsure if Democrats Have Votes To Pass Senate Bill

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, warned that House Democrats had not yet gathered the 216 votes required need to pass health reform legislation. "We don't have them as of this morning, but we've been working this thing all weekend," he said (AP/Washington Times, 3/14).

However, he added, "I'm also very confident that we'll get this done" (Washington Post, 3/15).

GOP Vows To Hinder Democrats Attempts To Pass Reform

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) during an appearance on CNN said that Republicans would do "everything we can to make it difficult for [Democrats], if not impossible, to pass the bill" (AP/Washington Times, 3/14).

To that end, Senate Republicans have begun developing numerous amendments to block further progress on health reform legislation in the event that House Democrats gather enough votes to pass the Senate bill, the Washington Times reports.

The amendments could deal with a range of non-health care-related issues, such as terrorism and national security. The Times reports that Democrats cannot afford to take up votes on any amendment because they would be forced to allocate additional time and schedule more votes to amend the legislation to reflect any changes (Haberkorn, Washington Times, 3/15).

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