House Dems Say Health Care Vote Will Likely Come In The Next 10 Days

Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.COM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still waiting for a CBO score of the final health care package. But with President Obama delaying his trip to Asia to help secure passage, she’s laid down a line to members that a vote is imminent, and could come as early as the end of next week–in other words, don’t make any plans.

“We stand ready to stay as long as it takes to pass the bill,” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference this morning. “I am delighted the President will be here for the passage of the bill. It will be historic.”

After her conference, her spokesman Nadeam Elshami added “If we have to be here next weekend or the week after we will.” That echoes the timeline suggested by House Whip James Clyburn, who told reporters this morning he expects a vote within 10 days.Pelosi was once again careful to note that the House’s timeline for passage of reform depends largely on when CBO hands them a final analysis, and that could come as early as today. She insisted that the score of the combined Senate/reconciliation bill will be as good or better than was the Senate bill on its own.

Once that happens, the Budget Committee will streamline the reconciliation package through to the Rules Committee, which will determine exactly how it will be paired with the Senate health care bill on the floor for a vote.

The movement comes despite the fact that, by most accounts, Pelosi doesn’t have 216 votes for passage at this moment. A number of rank and file Democrats remain on the fence, as they confront two competing facts: they want to succeed in passing health care reform, but they dislike the Senate bill, and don’t trust the Senate

“There’s been a tidal change, I think, in the last 72 hours or so,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) told reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting this morning. “I think people are becoming more confident that we’re going to get this done.”

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Weiner channeled fellow members: “I think there are a lot of skeptical members about whether the Senate can deliver on the things that they say they’re going to. And obviously we’d like to hear the president of the United States say that he’s going to do everything he can to deliver on the Senate’s commitments.”

“Once we do the reconciliation and the Senate bill, whatever leverage we have over the Senate is gone,” Weiner reasoned. “We will have passed their bill and the President and the White House seemed perfectly happy to have us just pass the Senate bill a few months back so we’re all skittish about whether or not the Senate has their heart in this process.”