The Republican playbook ranged from attacking the process to focusing political heat on vulnerable Democrats back in their districts to demanding television cameras in the Rules Committee.
GOP leaders on Tuesday previewed an ad titled Washington Madness in which an ominous voice warns voters that their Congressman is backing a corrupt bill and urges listeners to call and tell them to stop the corruption, stop the madness.
In addition to television ads, the National Republican Congressional Committee is using e-mail, direct mail, phone calls and tele-town halls to pressure endangered Democrats into voting against the bill.
Democratic leaders who are furiously whipping votes behind the scenes also faced headwinds because they have not yet gotten the blessing of the Congressional Budget Office nor released the text of the reconciliation bill. That delay appeared to push a vote to Saturday at the earliest because House leaders want to give Members at least 72 hours to read the bill.
If the package isnt 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 trip to Indonesia and Australia. Obama has already pushed back his trip three days to try to accommodate the House vote; he is set to depart Sunday.
Democratic leaders remained hopeful that they would ultimately have the votes to pass their health care package later this week, although dozens of Members remain undecided and an unresolved dispute over abortion continues to threaten passage. Pelosi was scheduled to meet this morning with all of the female Members in the Caucus.
Its just a matter of getting feedback from CBO, said Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, after a leadership huddle in Pelosis office on Tuesday afternoon.
Democratic leaders used the session to assess support for moving forward, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said afterward that the momentum is in the right direction.
Pelosi 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. Theres no beginning, theres no middle, theres no end.
And she continued to be optimistic about the vote. I think were in pretty good shape, she said.
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