Waxman: We have the votes on healthcare

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said Friday he is confident that the Democrats’ healthcare bill has the votes to clear his panel.

There had been some concern in recent days that a few Blue Dogs and liberals on the committee would reject the bill. The bill will not pass if seven Democrats and all committee Republicans vote no.

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Waxman’s committee is the third and final House panel to complete work on a sweeping health reform bill moving through Congress. Both the Ways and Means and Education and Labor committees have passed similar bills. 

Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee sent a clear signal of unity before the start of their final day of markup. Standing outside the committee room, Waxman, along with many of his fellow Democrats on the committee, including Blue Dogs, members of the Progressive Caucus and others, stressed they have joined forces and reached a compromise.
 
“We agreed to pull together.  We will support a package of amendments that have a number of goals, including additional savings,” said Waxman.   

Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), a Blue Dog, stressed the import of this legislation. “This issue is just as important as Medicare and Social Security. We all want healthcare for every single American.”

Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), also a Blue Dog, said, “Everybody has a right to be at the table. This is one step in a long process.”

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), a Blue Dog who is facing a primary challenge, said, “While I am a Blue Dog, I am an Un-Blue Dog for healthcare. We need to preserve a robust public option and we will have that when we are done. And some cuts that are going to be proposed will come from pharmaceutical companies.”

Liberals also lauded the deal. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), a member of the Progressive Caucus, said, “I would like to thank the Blue Dogs. We will achieve affordable, quality healthcare.”

Friday’s press conference comes a day after 57 House Democrats signed a letter stating their opposition to the compromise with Blue Dogs. No member of the Energy and Commerce Committee signed that letter.