Larson Says Democrats Have the Votes for Health Bill

Posted March 21, 2010 at 8:55am

Updated: 10:23 a.m.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) on Sunday asserted that Democrats now have the 216 votes they need to pass a historic overhaul of the nation’s health care system. “We’ve got the votes,” Larson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The House is expected to vote sometime Sunday on the legislation.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.), appearing on the same show, said Republicans would “use every means at our disposal” to block the measure when it comes to the floor. But Pence added, “It shouldn’t be a news flash — Republicans don’t have the votes to stop anything in the House.”

Larson said Members were swayed over the course of the week by constituents’ stories about losing insurance and being unable to get the care they needed. He said the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the bill — showing $143 billion in savings over a decade, he said — also played a key role in moving Democrats into the “yes” column.

Pence said those savings were illusory and suggested the bill would vastly increase the red ink pouring out of Washington, D.C.

“I think it’s going to be a historic weekend,” Pence said as he pointed to a large demonstrations against the bill held in the capital and other cities. He said this debate will mark “the end of business as usual in Washington.”

Larson repeated his confident assertion on ABC’s “This Week.”
“We have the votes. We are going to make history today,” Larson said. “We have the votes right now as we speak.”

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on the same program did not directly dispute Larson’s assertion. Cantor instead complained of “political kickbacks” in the legislation and vowed, “there will be no Republican votes for this bill.”

Appearing on “State of the Union,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Ohio) suggested the Senate would be unable to pass the same reconciliation language that would come out of the House, meaning the measure would have to return to the House for another vote. He argued that provisions in the bill affecting Social Security and appropriations elements would be knocked out by the Senate Parliamentarian.

“I really disagree,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. She said the legislation had been “carefully vetted” with the Parliamentarian. Feinstein said Democrats have 51 votes for the reconciliation bill in the Senate, but she predicted “several days” of votes this week on amendments offered by Republicans.