By Roxana Tiron - 03/21/10 02:01 PM EDT
House Democratic leaders disagreed Sunday morning over whether they have the 216 votes necessary for passage of healthcare reform.
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said on Sunday that Democrats had the votes to pass the bill "as we speak."
"We don’t have a hard 216 right now," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
She did express confidence that Dems would hit the number, adding, "I firmly believe we will have 216."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told NBC’s "Meet the Press" that “there are still members who are looking at it and making up their mind, but we still think there are going to be 216-plus votes when we call the roll.”
The disagreements on the head count came as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said on MSNBC Sunday morning that he was engaged in talks with the Obama administration late into Saturday night over abortion language in the bill. The possible deal would focus on an executive order that would specify there would be no public funding for abortions.
Talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fell apart as she announced Saturday there would be no side votes -- neither on abortion nor other member causes such as the public option.
Stupak sought a separate vote on an “enrollment resolution” designed to force his abortion language into the healthcare bill before it was signed into law.
The fresh talks with the White House, as well as the statements by Larson and Wasserman Schultz, indicate that the Democrats may be lacking confidence about hitting the 216-vote threshold in the 11th hour.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)
indicated that Republicans still see a window to derail the bill.
"This fight is not lost yet," he said.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the chairman of the House Republican
conference, expressed skepticism on CNN that the Democrats had the votes to
pass the bill. But Pence admitted that "Republicans do not have the
votes to stop anything in the House of Representatives."
"We are in a decisive minority," Pence said on CNN's State of the Union where he appeared together with Larson. "The American people know that they have the votes in November."
On ABC's "This Week," Larson also said that Democrats had the 216 votes "as we speak."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor didn't disagree, but derided how the Democrats would get there.
"There will be no Republican votes for this bill," Cantor said. "And, frankly, I think if it does pass, it's because they're using everything in their political power and even some things they shouldn't have in their political power to cut political deals to deliver the votes."
Pence said that
Republicans will use "every means" at their disposal to derail or at
the very least delay the passage of the bill, indicating that House
lawmakers were facing a long Sunday.
"It is going to be a historic weekend because it is going to be the beginning of the end of business as usual," Pence said.
See the lastest vote commitments on The Hill's whip list here.
Michael O'Brien contributed to this report