By Erik Wasson - 07/28/11 04:37 PM EDT
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) only needs 216 instead of the usual 218 votes to pass his debt-ceiling plan when it comes up for a vote Thursday evening.
Normally 218 votes constitute a majority of the 435 members of the House.
Boehner can afford to lose two more votes in part because Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) will not make it back for the vote because he is recovering from colon cancer surgery.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is recovering from an assassination attempt, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) resigned due to a sexting scandal and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is now a senator having replaced Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who resigned in disgrace.
This means there are a total of 431 members who may vote Thursday. If they all do, Boehner can afford to have 215 members vote against the plan. Democrats say they are united against the debt-ceiling plan.
Boehner can lose 23 Republican votes. According to the most current Hill whip count, 22 Republicans have said they will vote no or are leaning against it. Several dozen appear to be undecided hours away from the vote.