House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) has taken the lead in the optimism sweepstakes when it comes to healthcare reform, telling reporters Monday night that leaders have the votes they need in hand.
"There’s tremendous anticipation, and certainly a lot of anxiety, but I believe we have the votes and that we will get this bill done this week," Larson, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, said after a caucus meeting.
President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders have hedged in response to the same question, asserting merely that they will have the 216 votes they need to advance the legislation by the end of the week.
Even as Obama, Pelosi and her lieutenants search high and wide for votes, and a rift over whether the bill would allow for taxpayer-funded abortions continues to vex Democratic leaders, Larson seemed more certain.
"I think that the votes are there," Larson said. "Consensus is about getting everyone to agree that this is the best that they can achieve at this time while individually they may not agree with everything that’s in the bill."