Clyburn says whipping on health bill hasn't begun in earnest

House Democrats haven't begun counting votes in earnest for their healthcare bill, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Tuesday.

Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat who serves as chief vote-counter, said that Democrats are waiting to see the final legislative language on healthcare before they worry about counting votes.

"When we get that language, we will start our whipping operation," Clyburn said during an appearance on MSNBC. "We haven't started whipping yet."

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President Barack Obama's administration is still working to craft the final language the president would like to see in the healthcare bill, and House and Senate Democrats are in the process of negotiating a series of fixes to the Senate's original healthcare bill before moving forward with health reform efforts.

The White House and some Senate Democrats have expressed hope that leaders could cobble together the votes to finish health reform this month, though House leaders have chafed at a timeline.

Clyburn said that he was confident Democrats could get together the votes in the end, including by reaching an agreement with some party members, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who oppose abortion rights.

"I too believe that he is doing whatever he can to get this to a place where he and his colleagues can vote for this," Clyburn said of talks with Stupak.

"I'm convinced that we'll have the votes to pass it and look back and wonder why we took so long to pass it," the majority whip said of the overall vote count on the bill.

News organizations and partisan outlets on either side of the aisle have maintained their own whip counts, which show Democrats still have work to do in order to secure enough votes for their healthcare bill.

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