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Pelosi: No Decision on Procedure to Pass Health Care Bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she has not yet made a decision on whether to use a special procedure to enact the Senate’s health care bill without a separate vote, but she noted that Republicans used similar procedures when they were in charge.

“I didn’t hear this ferocity the hundreds of times the Republicans used these methods,” Pelosi said in response to the outrage from House Republicans over the possible use of the maneuver.

Pelosi said Monday that she is considering a rule that would deem the Senate bill passed and send it to the president's desk if a companion reconciliation bill amending it is passed by the House. That would allow Members to avoid a separate vote on the Senate bill. Republicans have said they plan to offer a resolution on the floor that would prohibit the use of the deeming process for the health care bill, forcing a vote.

But Pelosi said she would not make a decision on how to deal with the Senate bill until the companion reconciliation bill, which remains under wraps, is scored by the Congressional Budget Office.

“We have several options available to us,” Pelosi said. But she acknowledged that the Senate bill on its own isn’t particularly popular with House Members. “There are a lot of Members who don’t want to vote for it,” she said.

Democrats have been frustrated that the CBO has not yet blessed the reconciliation package, and the delay could affect the timing of the final vote because Democratic leaders intend to give 72 hours for Members to review the final bill before voting. House Democrats are hoping to vote on the overhaul by this weekend.

If the package isn’t unveiled Wednesday, Democrats would not be able to keep the 72-hour rule and vote before President Barack Obama is scheduled to leave for his overseas trip. Obama has already pushed back his trip three days to try and accommodate the House vote; he is set to depart Sunday.

Pelosi also acknowledged that she has been whipping the health care vote all along, not waiting for the release of the text.

“I never stop whipping,” she said. “There’s no beginning, there’s no middle, there’s no end.”

But she continued to be optimistic about the vote.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” she said.

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