Leading Democrats confident they have the votes on healthcare

Top Democrats expressed confidence on Wednesday that they have the votes to move forward with healthcare legislation.

Three members of the House Democratic leadership sent signals that they now believe they have rounded up enough votes to move forward on a healthcare bill.

"I think we have the votes for the Democrats to move this agenda forward and have had for some time," House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.), the fourth-ranking Democrat, said during an appearance on Fox News.

ADVERTISEMENT
The confident projections come as President Barack Obama rolls out his own healthcare plan this afternoon, which is expected to move the months-long health reform battle forward.

Democrats in Congress are expected to pass the Senate's healthcare bill and pass a series of fixes to that legislation using the budget reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass a bill with only a simple majority of votes, instead of the 60 votes usually needed to end a filibuster.

"I believe we do," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and fifth-ranking House Democrat, said Wednesday morning on MSNBC when asked if the majority had the votes to pass the Senate bill, with the understanding that fixes would be made.

Van Hollen cautioned though that a formal whip count hasn't been conducted, pending the release of the president's own bill.

"We haven't done a whip count because we still don't have the final legislative language," he said. "And I think it's only fair to our colleagues that they have an opportunity to see the bills."

Democrats' chief vote-counter, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), stopped short of saying how many votes Democrats have on Wednesday morning, but said the majority is in "good shape" when it comes to their vote count.


House and Senate Republicans have downplayed reports that Democrats may have the votes, with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) having released a memo last week outlining GOP math on the health bill.

The Senate's fourth-ranking Republican also said he's not confident Democrats will having the votes, while pledging GOP efforts to slow or halt the legislation.

"You know, I don't want to concede that it's going to pass for sure yet," Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said. "I still think that there's a lot of clock left in this game."