By Mike Soraghan and Jared Allen - 11/08/09 02:22 AM EST
Democratic leaders believe they have the votes to pass their historic,
$1 trillion healthcare plan Saturday night, Democratic sources said.
"We have the votes," said a senior Democratic aide.
They are also concerned about a Republican amendment, called a "motion to recommit." Republicans won’t disclose the content of that amendment until minutes before it must be voted on, but Democrats are concerned that Republicans might try to exploit a divide that has emerged in their party on immigration.
The path toward 218 was cleared after Democratic leaders settled an intra-party dispute about abortion language in the bill late Friday night.
"We've had the votes since 10:05 last night," another aide said in reference to the moment the abortion deal was struck.
Anti-abortion Democrats successfully fought for a separate vote to attach language to the bill strictly prohibiting any taxpayer dollars from covering abortion procedures. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) received assurances from enough pro-abortion-rights Democrats that they would not let the healthcare bill go down over the issue of abortion.
Women’s reproductive rights were brought up throughout the day by Democrats, and many were furious at having to swallow language that they say will restrict abortion rights even further than current law.
But in the end, enough Democrats decided that it was more important to address the issue during House-Senate negotiations, rather than handing President Barack Obama a loss that could derail the process of getting a bill to his desk.