Dems don't have votes to pass House health bill

Democratic leaders were hoping to have a final vote Saturday evening, but that may not happen now


Alex Koppelman
November 7, 2009 12:54AM (UTC)

House Democratic leaders had hoped to have a final vote on their version of healthcare reform legislation Saturday evening. Now it looks as if the vote could be pushed back a day or more, and for the simplest of reasons: They don't yet have the votes to pass it.

It takes 218 "ayes" to pass a bill in the House, and the Democratic caucus has 258 members. But they won't get any help from their Republican colleagues, and there's a pretty decent number of Democrats who aren't ready to vote for the bill.

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The big stumbling blocks remaining are the issues of coverage for abortion and for illegal immigrants. One other potential obstacle was removed on Friday when Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-Ny.Y., agreed to drop an amendment he'd planned to offer that would have turned the bill into one that created a single-payer system. House progressives had demanded at least a vote on the amendment -- which wouldn't have passed anyway -- but they won't get it now.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is preemptively blaming any delay on Republican stalling tactics, but that's a stretch, at the very least. The GOP may employ some of those tactics when the House does prepare for the vote, but the thing holding it up right now is a lack of Democratic votes.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Healthcare Reform Steny Hoyer, D-md. U.s. House Of Representatives War Room

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