Menendez predicts Democrats will get votes to pass health bill

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Sunday predicted that Democrats would get enough votes to pass healthcare reform legislation.

Menendez, who is in chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, hoped that some Republicans would support the bill but said that Democrats are still exploring whether or not to use the budget reconciliation process to pass the bill.

ADVERTISEMENT
Only a simple majority of senators is needed to pass legislation under reconciliation rules, which are typically used to pass measures related to the budget. Democrats are considering using the tactic to pass fixes to the bill around a Republican filibuster.

"Our first hope is that we can get some movement from out Republican colleagues," he said on Fox News Sunday. "But in the absence of there may be the ability to proceed on a simple majority vote that has been used by Republicans in the past.

"I think we will get to that point, I think we will have the votes."

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Chief Deputy Whip Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) agreed that the votes are there.

"When we start counting the votes will be there," she said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not yet said whether or not he will use the reconciliation process to pass fixes to the bill. And it's not clear whether or not 50 senators will support its use.

Some expect that the House will pass the Senate bill and then approve President Barack Obama's fixes to the bill with the Senate approving the fixes using reconciliation. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on ABC's "This Week" that Democrats are still finalizing their plan.

But it also remains unclear if the House can marshal the votes to pass a health bill on a second go-around. Republicans have said they don't but Democratic leaders have left it an open-ended question this week.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) had predicted that the House would pass the president's plan with more support that the lower chamber's original bill but did not endorse that stance when asked later in the week. 

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released a vote count this week predicting that the House would fall short in passing the bill.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that Pelosi does not have the votes but that "I wouldn't count her out because she is very good at muscling out votes.”

This post was updated at 11:10 a.m.