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Pro-life Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) will vote for the health care legislation tomorrow, his office announced today in a statement. Cuellar voted for the bill last fall but was considered undecided this week thanks to the issue of the abortion language. He brings the Democrats that much closer to the needed 216 for passage.

In his statement he cited the number of uninsured in his district and the nearly $1.5 trillion deficit reduction included in the health care legislation. "In a time of extreme economic challenges, this is a pivotal moment for the nation to stem rising premiums and begin containing health care costs for the future. No longer can we stand idle as Americans compromise their health because they can't afford to get care," Cuellar said.

Our list of potential switchers is here.

[ed.note: This story was reported by Brian Beutler and written by David Kurtz]

On his way into a Democratic caucus meeting a short time ago, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the House would hold a straight up or down vote on the Senate health care bill, and forgo using the more complex procedural mechanisms that had proved too politically volatile.

"We determined that we can do this and it's a better process," Hoyer told reporters.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats had always insisted that no final decision had been made on whether to use the parliamentary procedure variously referred to as "deem and pass," the "self-executing rule," and the "Slaughter rule." But they had continued to prepare to use the procedure to ease the concerns of House Democrats who didn't want to vote on the Senate health care bill without greater assurance that it would be "fixed" by the Senate later using the reconciliation process.

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We've been tracking the Democrats who remain in play on the health care reform legislation, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has lost a potential switcher. Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM) issued a statement saying he will remain a "no" vote because the measure doesn't cut costs enough.

The New Mexico Independent reported that Teague said he'd reviewed the final legislation and it didn't pass his test.

"I do not believe that the bill does enough to contain costs and it definitely does not do enough to rein in the out of control insurance companies that are driving up healthcare costs in this country," Teague said in the statement, the Independent reported. "In fact, I believe we are doing more for the insurance companies than we are for the people who need this coverage, and that is why, despite the positive steps it takes, I must vote against this bill."

House Democratic leadership has apparently told Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) to go take a hike--and they'll move forward without him, or any other anti-abortion Dems threatening to switch their votes from 'yes' to 'no.'

Just off the House floor moments ago, Pelosi told reporters there will be "no separate vote" on abortion or any other measure.

And Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a leading pro-choice progressive, said they're moving ahead without him. "There's not going to be any deal made with Mr. Stupak...there's been no deal whatsoever. He's been told that his language is not going to be added to the legislation," she told me this morning.

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Any in-play Democrats playing hard-to-get on health care reform won't have a restful weekend. The unions with AFL-CIO and Change to Win--the two largest labor federations in the country--are letting them know, one-by-one, that their vote for the bill is expected tomorrow, notwithstanding any remaining doubts. Yesterday, AFL put Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-NY) on notice that there will be a price to pay for opposing reform. Today, it's Rep. Stephen Lynch's (D-MA) turn.

Congressman, we will not be able to explain to the working women and men of our union why you voted against their interests," reads a letter from AFL to Lynch, dated this morning. "We have stood together time and time again and you have made an enormous difference in the lives of our members. It takes courage to make history. We know that you have always had the courage to do the right thing - national health reform is the right thing for Massachusetts families."

You can read the entire letter below the fold. Lynch has been trashing the health care reform bill for days, despite the fact that President Obama has personally asked him to support the legislation.

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The major vote on health care reform legislation is expected Sunday afternoon, but there is plenty of action on Capitol Hill today that will tell us a lot about whether tomorrow will yield the historic passage of a sweeping overhaul of the health care system, or be a bust without enough votes.

TPMDC is tracking all of the developments. Brian is keeping a close eye on the crucial negotiations over abortion provisions, including why Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) indefinitely postponed a planned 11 a.m. press conference. Evan will be tracking conservatives who say an afternoon tea party rally near the Capitol is their last chance to stop the bill. I'm monitoring the Rules Committee hearing (live on C-SPAN2) which will set the framework for debate. We'll have it all for you on our Countdown to Reform Wire.

Another key event to watch today is a caucus meeting with two rare special guests - President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Obama is expected to listen to any final concerns and rally House Democrats toward passage of the measure Sunday. But more important is Reid's presence, since wary rank-and-file members want firm assurances that the Senate will indeed pass a package of fixes to its health care legislation the House is expected to approve tomorrow.

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In somewhat dramatic fashion, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)--a leader of pro-life House Democrat--has indefinitely postponed a press conference that had been scheduled for 11 this morning, as House leadership seeks a solution to a dilemma over abortion language that's threatening to paralyze, or even kill, health care reform.

Some background here. Stupak, and perhaps 10 other Democrats, are unhappy with the Senate health care bill's language, which they believe expands federal funding for abortions, and they're threatening to switch their votes from yes to no unless they get some sort of deal.

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Several members of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus emerged--very unhappy--from a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Friday evening. The meeting lasted about half an hour, and most attendees were extremely tight-lipped when they left. But the gist is this: Pelosi is still trying to figure out how to assuage pro-life Democrats, who want the health care bill to contain tighter restrictions on funding abortions, and pro-choice members do not like the options before them.

Pelosi is weighing her option with respect to the remaining pro-life holdouts--led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)--who are threatening to oppose the health care bill over its abortion language. One of the options floated a few weeks ago would've given Stupak et al a vote on a stand-alone piece of abortion legislation.

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Political memos from Congressional Republicans and Democrats get obtained and posted by the press every single day, but a curious PDF file instructing "Democratic health and communications staff" to avoid discussing the details of the cost of health care reform rocked Washington today. Is it a fake? A mistake?

We still don't know who wrote the memo. But we know that a Republican lobbyist (and maybe more than one) sent it to several political reporters today. Based on numerous interviews with Congressional aides, the 2-page PDF, complete with a handwritten note identifying one bit as "important," starting hitting email inboxes around noon.


TPMDC dug deeper into the kerfuffle after Democrats accused Republicans of an elaborate plot to try and derail health care reform in the final hours before the expected vote Sunday in the House.

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Yesterday, it was clear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had built real momentum for passing health care reform this Sunday--but she was also dealing with a tricky landscape. She hadn't converted enough health care skeptics in her caucus to make up for the fact that several anti-abortion members are threatening to bolt over the Senate bill's abortion language, she was facing revolt from two separate members who were expected to vote for the final package, and the remaining holdouts were never going to be easy pickups.

Today that all changed.

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