House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday may have finally reached the magic number of 216 to pass Obamacare, but she faced a potential setback as pro-life lawmakers led by Bart Stupak, D-Mich, remained opposed to abortion language in the House bill.
Pelosi told Fox News on Saturday that she will not cut a deal with a group of anti-abortion Democrats to include tighter restrictions on abortion funding in the final health care bill, suggesting that she believes she has enough votes to pass the legislation without them.
There will be no vote on a separate bill adding abortion restrictions championed by Stupak to the final legislation.
Earlier Saturday, members of the House Rules Committee, which began deliberations that will set the terms for Sunday's expected vote in the full House, told Fox News that no changes would be made to the abortion funding restrictions contained in the Senate version of the bill.
And her effort to solve that problem has alienated some of her liberal votes. Pelosi met in the evening with visibly angry abortion supporters who had heard that the Speaker was working on a last-minute deal with Stupak to give his abortion language a separate vote.
Leadership aides, including those in the Speaker’s office, would not comment, but a senior Democratic aide directly involved in the abortion debate told The Hill that Pelosi appeared to have agreed to give Stupak a vote on an “enrollment resolution” offered by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, a key Stupak ally.
But Pelosi appears to have the 216 votes she needs for health care reform to pass. That came after two key Florida Democrats switched their votes from "no" to "yes."
But there's still a day remaining before the House votes -- a lifetime in politics in which anything can happen.
Early Friday evening, Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla., switched to a "yes." That followed Rep. Allen Boyd, D-FL, who also flipped his vote from "no" to "yes," according to Fox News.
Democratic Ohio Rep. John Boccieri’s switch of his vote to yes on Friday at first appeared to give Pelosi 215 votes -- one vote shy of the 216 needed to pass. But a late switch by Rep. Peter DeFazio may have negated the advantage.
The opposition from DeFazio, D-Ore., reduces the number of House members leaning toward voting yes to 214, and the number leaning toward voting no to 217. DeFazio announced his vote switch shortly after Boccieri said he'd switch his vote to yes, temporarily putting Pelosi within one vote of what she needs, according to Fox News.
But Boyd's flip resets the number to 215 with 216 leaning toward a no vote.
DeFazio's switch was followed by more news out of Ohio, where Rep. Charlie Wilson announced he will vote yes, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Boccieri, a freshman congressman who announced his flip at a Capitol Hill news conference, had opposed the House version of the bill in November. But during the news conference televised on CNN, he said the new version unveiled Thursday eased his fears about the bill's cost.
Boccieri, who said he now is doing what he believes in, became the fourth Democrat to switch from no to yes during the past few days as President Obama and Democratic leaders try to pull together enough votes to pass the legislation.
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, another Ohio Democrat, said Wednesday that he plans to support the healthcare bill when it comes up for a vote this week. The following day, Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., officially changed his vote from no to yes.
Boccieri also is acknowledging pressure, after labor unions and other groups pushing the reform ran ads in his district.
Wilson had voted for the healthcare measure last fall, but he had not tipped his hand on how he would vote on this proposal until today, The Plain Dealer said.
Wilson, who opposes abortion, said he doesn’t believe the Senate language will allow tax dollars for abortions.
"This bill is not perfect, but it's a strong step forward," Wilson said in a news release.
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