Waxman: CBO numbers 'go a long way' toward winning undecided votes

The budget office estimate of Democrats' healthcare bill will help win over wavering lawmakers, a top committee chairman said Thursday.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showing the health reform bill before Congress saving $130 billion over the next decade would go a long way toward winning over undecided centrists.

"I think a lot of the undecided members are people who care a lot about the deficit," Waxman told reporters at the Capitol. "And I think this will go a long way to get their support for this."

The CBO showed the health bill making more reductions to the deficit than any prior health reform bill out of the House and Senate, though it has the largest price tag of any of the bills at $940 billion over the first 10 years.

Waxman said the official numbers would be posted by noon today, with Democrats' actual reconciliation health bill to be released at some point today as well. That would set into motion the 72-hour clock until a final healthcare vote, which appears likely on Sunday.

The California Democrat, whose committee was one of three key panels in the House to craft their healthcare bill, said that Democrats were hoping to reach a "clear understanding" with Senate leaders to move forward on the package without amendment.

Waxman said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would look to lock up 51 or more votes for the House healthcare bill once the legislative text has been released.

"He has senators who want to look at the specifics," Waxman said. "After they look at the specifics today, he will pin down the 51 votes today that the Senate will act on the package."