UPDATE 6:18 P.M. – There is new talk late Friday that the pro-life bloc of House Democrats may be in play.
Rep. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat, is reportedly proposing something called an enrollment resolution to change the Senate language.
Female Democratic lawmakers were huddled in a meeting room off the House floor, and on the floor, Speaker Pelosi was briefly in a animated discussion with a group of lawmakers. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat, was one of them. Moments later, Pelso and Delauro rushed into Stupak meeting and all the aides walked out, leaving only the lawmakers and Pelosi.
UPDATE 4:32 P.M. – We’ve just received decisions from a few key House Democrats on health care.
Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania is a no.
Allen Boyd of Florida is a yes.
UPDATE 4:22 P.M. – House Minority Whip Eric Cantor told reporters that Democrats, who appear to be close to getting enough votes for passage of health care on Sunday, are not as close as they appear.
“It is false momentum,” Cantor said. “The votes still aren’t there.”
“We know that we need 38 Democrat no votes in order to defeat this bill,” he said, citing 33 stated no votes and 12 members of a pro-life caucus.
The number of pro-life Democrats who will vote against the bill for that reason, however, is not expected to be that large.
UPDATE 2:05 P.M. – Democrats holding their members in the Capitol through series of long votes
House Democratic leaders kept their members in the chamber just now for over an hour for a long series of votes on a number of procedural motions.
Why? They want their caucus in the chamber all together, where they can keep tabs on them, making sure their yes votes on the health care bill are still yes votes, and working on the undecided votes.
They have another round of votes scheduled for 3:30 p.m. That’s it for the day, but then they’re back tomorrow at 8 a.m.
H.R. 3644 – Ocean, Coastal, and Watershed Education Act
Suspensions (six bills):
1. H.Res. 1133 – Recognizing the extraordinary number of African-Americans who have overcome significant obstacles to enhance innovation and competitiveness in the field of science in the United States
2. H.Res. 1027 – Recognizing the 50th anniversary of the historic dive to the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the world’s oceans, on January 23, 1960
3. H.Con.Res. 244 – Expressing support for the designation of March 20 as a National Day of Recognition for Long-Term Care Physicians
4. H.Res. 1040 – Honoring the life and accomplishments of Donald Harington for his contributions to literature in the United States
5. H.R. 4840 – “Clarence D. Lumpkin Post Office” Designation Act
6. H.Res. 1174 – Supporting the goals and ideals of National Women’s History Month
Postponed suspension votes (four bills):
1. H.R. 3671 – Upper Mississippi River Basin Protection Act
2. H.R. 2788 – Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act
3. H.R. 4003 – Hudson River Valley Special Resource Study Act
4. H.R. 4395 – To revise the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park to include the Gettysburg Train Station
UPDATE 1:10 P.M. – Insistent DeFazio says problem can be fixed
Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio is upset that a provision correcting geographic imbalances in Medicare has been taken out of the health bill.
He’s made some waves today by saying he’ll vote against the bill unless its reinserted, and he blamed the withdrawal of the provision on “powerful east coast senators who weighed in and said, ‘Get this out.’”
He said the senators were Democrats.
But he also said that he thinks the problem can be fixed by Democratic leaders and the White House.
“They can fix anything they want if they want to fix it,” he said. “I’m a no unless they fix this.”
UPDATE 11:50 A.M. – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded confident at her press conference.
“When we bring the legislation to the floor, we will have a significant victory for the American people,” she said.
Pelosi did not seem worried about comments by Peter Defazio, Oregon Democrat, saying he won’t vote for the bill unless a provision fixing geographic imbalances in Medicare is reinserted.
Pelosi appeared confident the issue could be resolved, and a Pelosi aide said that Sen. Kent Conrad’s request Thursday to remove a provision that was seen as a carveout for a bank in his home state of North Dakota would also “likely” be honored.
Asked about the possibility that the reconciliation bill will face numerous challenges in the Senate and have to be brought back to the Senate if anything is taken out, Pelosi said the House was giving the bill a good “scrub” to minimize the chances of that.
“We think we’re in pretty good shape going in,” she said.
UPDATE 11:35 A.M. – Heath Shuler, North Carolina Democrat, insists he’s a no vote. I followed him about 100 yards outside the Capitol as he talked on his cell phone. At a certain point he got pretty irritated that I was still walking beside him. He was on a personal call, and I knew it was rude to try to interrupt him, but this vote is kind of a big deal. So I wanted to nail down where he stood. And he said he’s never been anything but a no.
UPDATE 11:08 A.M. – There’s renewed talk of a separate vote on abortion to placate the Stupak bloc of pro-life House Democrats.
Chris Van Hollen pretty much knocked that idea down while talking to me on his way into the Capitol following a meeting with Democrats in the Cannon building.
“I haven’t seen a viable solution at this point in time,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t one.”
UPDATE – 10:30 A.M. – John Boccieri of Ohio is a yes it looks like.
Chris Van Hollen told me, by accident, that Boccieri will vote for the bill.
Asked about pickups, Van Hollen mentioned Boccieri’s name.
Brian Baird of Washington and Patrick Murphy are still undecided, they told me on their way out of the meeting.
John Barrow of Georgia has made a decision, he told me, but refused to say what it is.
UPDATE – 10:18 A.M. – Two House Democratic leaders have filed out of their meeting with all Dem members and indicated that they are still short of 216 votes.
“We’ll have the votes,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Majority Whip James Clyburn said, “We’re getting there.”
Clyburn said there are two or three issues still holding them back from getting the votes they need, and indicated abortion language is one of them.