Video: Does Pelosi have enough votes?

  1. Closed captioning of: Does Pelosi have enough votes?

    >>> we're going to remind him. we start with health care tonight. u.s. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz is a florida democrat. and u.s. congressman brian bill beret is a republican. are you going to win tomorrow? you are you going to get help there for the american people ?

    >> i think we will. we're going to cast an historic vote tomorrow. the most historic vote that any of us have ever had an opportunity to cast and cover 46 million americans, provide stability to those who have health insurance and start to bring down the overall cost of health care , and really start to turn the deficit around. our bill actually reduces the deficit by $104 billion. we have to start moving in that direction and turn the economy around. and finally, change our health care system from a sick care system to a system that focuses on keeping people well.

    >> is that true? will there be a bill passed tomorrow?

    >> real problems. first, another trillion dollar proposal? how many of these come along? again and again, we had the bailout with the aig. then the stimulus with aig pay raises. a billion here, a billion there. now we're talking about another billion on top of this. and a lot of people, democrats are very uncomfortable with this. you've got issues like why abandon the verification system to make sure that illegals don't benefit through this program. a system we've had for over 15 years. why retreat from that? there is a lot of big questions . the biggest issue is how you are you going to pay for it? how are you going to justify it when you get back and talk about what the long term impact is on this country. remember, if this is so critical to do it so quickly, why are they putting off implementation until 2013 ? they start right away. the benefits don't show up.

    >> when do the republicans have a health care bill they were trying to get through ahead of this one? you were in power for years and you you didn't do it. why do you keep saying the democrats are moving too fast? democrats started working on this when harry truman back in the late '40s. they're finally getting it done and you're saying they're moving too fast? a half century?

    >> when i was in the will 90s, somebody had to supervise the health care system for 3 million people in san diego county , i knew you the tort issue and liability was a huge issue we have to address. you now they're talking about that it is sitting around, $45 to $55 billion price tag that we could be using for providing health care .

    >> i know you have arguments and i agree with you, by the way, but you the democrats are in bed with the trial lawyers and it will never happen. so let's stop this stupid argument. what will happen tomorrow is the health care bill or not. congressman, is it going to pass or not? whether you lying it or not, is it going to pass?

    >> i think after talking to the moderate main stream democrats , i think it probably won't.

    >> it probably won't.

    >> let me ask you, you're on the show a lot. let me ask you but a couple of stumbling blocks. abortion lirkts be covered in any way? will any illegal undocumented worker benefit from the bill? yes or no to the two questions.

    >> to question one on abortion coverage, it maintains the status quo . it does not provide any federal funding for abortion, just like the hyde amendment is in federal law now. preserves the status quo and treats abortion exactly like it always has been since 1976 . on immigration, no, the answer is no to that question as well. it does not cover illegal immigrants at all of does not allow them to participate in the health care system . in the you new health care reform system. what i don't understand, chris, is why in, congressman bilbray represents the district in california. i don't understand why he wants to continue to walk down the streets of his community in san diego and look at one in every ten people in his district, in the 50th district in california, and look them in the eye look don't have health insurance . one in every ten people in his district don't have health insurance . 61,000 people. that's okay with him. it is okay with him to continue to be a member of a party that has, health care reform --

    >> you're not talking about illegal immigrants . are you?

    >> no. no, no. i'm talking about 61,000 --

    >> in the country illegally that aren't getting health care .

    >> eligible for health care .

    >> before you answer her question, what you will may want to do at some other time i want you to you answer my question now. is there a measure in this bill that pays for in any way someone having an abortion procedure, first of all? is it paid for in this bill?

    >> the abortion issue is being involved by the fact that you are not, you're not allowing people, you you're not having a system that makes sure that abortion stays out of any publicly administered program.

    >> that's not true. that's absolutely not true. you're entitled to your opinion but not entitled to your own facts.

    >> a democrat from michigan is raising that issue. the issue i've been raising is that if you do not require that you check that somebody is legally in the country, the gentlelady from florida knows with a wink and a nod, you're allowing illegals in. the issue about her district or apply district, it is about america. will.

    >> that's right.

    >> let me flair over it down.

    >> 135,000 people in my district.

    >> let's help the viewer a little bit. congressman, first, you're a republican. you won't vote for this bill. let me ask you, i understand that there is no subsidies in this bill for someone in the country illegally. is that what you understand? no subsidy for anyone in this bill who is not in this country legally. isn't that right?

    >> no.

    >> no subsidy.

    >> the administration of the program. and chris, one of the biggest problems we have --

    >> why you are you changing my language?

    >> the subsidy is the administration of a program that specifically tells illegals, we have a program you can participate in and the american government will help subsidize it.

    >> that's baloney give me a break. there is absolutely no way for an undocumented immigrant to participate in this health care reform plan. no subsidies.

    >> you can't even say the word illegal.

    >> undocumented. i said illegal three minutes ago.

    >> she doesn't have to bash people here illegally. isn't what you're talking about, the exchange program where you're allowed to buy in, a government program helps you understand how to get the best deal, they can participate in that but they don't get any subsidy. isn't that right, congress milan?

    >> what you're doing is you're telling them, the american people , will allow to you participate in a program and that is the kind of mixed signals that tells everybody, come here illegally.

    >> no subsidy. we agree there is no subsidy. let me ask you but the abortion problem, congresswoman wasserman schultz . it seems there is a real problem. the pro-life people, a lot of them really do believe that if you give a person a subsidy for a health care plan, even if they had the plan before this bill came along, that is subsidizing abortion. could do you look at it that way?

    >> no, i don't look at it that way. the point is that in order to make sure we can have comprehensive health reform , the language on this bill on abortion, prime choice. i have, and many of my pro-choice colleagues have made a compromise by being willing to look at the broader issue and support health care reform and have language that doesn't make us comfortable. we have to come together. meet each other in the middle and pro pro-life and pro-choice members, at least on the democratic side, understand. that that's why i've been working so hard to get us together so we can pass health care reform tomorrow which i feel comfortable we will.

    >> it is called the vote to recommit. will you carve a bill that does the following? an amendment form. will you say no money goes to illegals, even in the form of the exchange program . no participation. will you push and say, no money can go for subsidizing which approves abortion. will you do these things so you can get 218 votes tomorrow? is that your plan, sir? to get this amendment through?

    >> that we use the verification system that we've used for every program the last 15 years. that we draw a bright line . government will stay out of abortion. it should stay totally out and not be involved in any way financially or administratively.

    >> that will be in the motion to recommit. will there be something in there about illegal immigrants to recommit?

    >> absolutely. we'll go back to the system.

    >> they're going to do anything they can. the republicans are opposed to health care reform . that's evident in the bill that they put forward that covers 3 million people that doesn't even prohibit insurance companies from dropping people or denying them coverage based on a preexisting condition. they should be ashamed of the themselves. this is one of the most important priorities for america to take care of. health care should be a right, not a privilege.

    >> this is what i think will happen tomorrow. congresswoman, i want people to understand what will happen tomorrow. and i think this will happen. i think the republicans have given up on passing their version of health care reform . they don't have the votes and i don't think they have their heart in it anyway. what they're going to do is try to aplenty the democratic bill in a way that makes it unpassable. you'll push through a really tough anti-abortion measure. a really tough anti-immigration measure and you'll make it maybe so attractive to some democrats , that you get 218 votes. there by creating a a mutation of the democratic health care bill not 218 democrats will support since all of you will vote against it. isn't that your master plan tomorrow, sir? isn't that your plan?

    >> wait, wait. we will not be allowed to do any of those amendments. we will not be allowed --

    >> please. that's what your motion to recommit will be. you know what he's talking about. in your motion to recommit, you are going to try to derail health care reform by including those issues --

    >> the motion to recommit will have a separate bill that addresses tort refrorm $50 billion we could use for health care . it will you include something the democrats don't want to touch. take on the lawyers.

    >> i don't want that tort reform job of yours. i'm not going to tell you how to do it smart because i don't want to see you destroy the bill. thank y thank you so much for coming on. what might have prompted that deadly

updated 11/7/2009 2:04:48 AM ET 2009-11-07T07:04:48

Capping months of struggle, Democrats in the House of Representatives cleared an abortion-related impasse blocking a vote on sweeping health care legislation late Friday and officials expressed optimism they had lined up the support needed to pass President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

A vote was expected on the legislation on Saturday, after Obama's scheduled midmorning trip to the Capitol complex to make one final pitch for its approval. The bill is designed to spread coverage to tens of millions who now lack it and ban insurance industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

Under the late-night arrangement covering abortion, Reps. Bart Stupak, Brad Ellsworth and other abortion opponents were promised an opportunity to try to insert tougher restrictions into the legislation during debate on the House floor.

The leadership's hope is that no matter how that vote turns out, Democrats on both sides of the abortion divide will then unite to give the health care bill a majority.

The plan emerged from hours of meetings presided over by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and involving lawmakers on both sides of the abortion issue and officials from the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops. It effectively ended a standoff that dated to last summer, when the issue arose in one of three committees that debated the legislation.

There was no immediate reaction from prominent abortion rights supporters called to the late-night negotiations in the Capitol.

Dems ‘very close’?
Separately, Pelosi and the leadership sought to ease concerns over illegal immigrants among Hispanic holdouts on the legislation.

"We're very close" to having enough votes to prevail, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said in a midday assessment, although he cautioned at the time that a scheduled Saturday vote could slip by a day or two and sought to pin the blame on possible Republican delaying tactics.

"Nice try, Rep. Hoyer, but you can't blame Republicans when the fact is you just don't have the votes," shot back Antonia Ferrier, spokeswoman for the Republican leader, Rep. John Boehner.

Hours later, Democrats were still trying to get them.

In a midnight-hour appearance before the House Rules Committee, Stupak said he hoped the House would pass a ban on any abortion benefit from being offered in a government-run insurance option that is envisioned under the bill, except in instances of rape, incest or when the life of the mother was in danger.

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Separately, he said that he and his allies wanted a similar ban on coverage under comprehensive policies offered by private insurers in a federally regulated exchange that would be created. Individuals would be able to buy supplemental abortion coverage as long as they used their own money, and not federal subsidies designed to make insurance affordable.

"We are not writing a new federal abortion policy," he said, adding that his intent was to transplant into the health insurance bill restrictions that apply to other federal programs.

Stupak also said attempts during the evening to reach a compromise that both sides could support had ultimately collapsed.

"I think we have a fundamental disagreement in this issue. That's a reality," Rep. Henry Waxman, a supporter of abortion rights, said after hours of closed-door talks on the issue.

Bipartisanship not an option
In a struggle that combined the fate of Obama's signature policy initiative and a 2010 campaign issue, bipartisanship was not an option.

Republican leaders boasted that all 177 House Republicans stood ready to oppose the $1.2 trillion bill, which would create a new federally supervised insurance marketplace where the uninsured or those without employer-provided coverage could purchase it.

Consumers would have the option of picking a government-run plan, the most hotly contested item in the legislation and the basis for the Republican claim that Democrats were planning a government takeover of the insurance industry.

Democrats said their bill was designed to spread coverage to millions who lack it, ban insurance industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and restrain the growth of health care spending nationally. The Congressional Budget Office said that if enacted, the measure would extend coverage to 96 percent of all eligible Americans within 10 years.

Obama and others in his administration spent part of the day lobbying intensely for its passage.

Several Democrats have already announced their opposition, most of them moderate to conservative members.

Democrats hold 258 seats in the House and can afford 40 defections and still wind up with 218, a majority if all lawmakers vote.

‘Work in progress’
The controversy surrounding illegal immigrants remains "a work in progress," Rep. Nydia Velazquez, a New Yorker and chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus, said after a midday meeting in Pelosi's office.

As drafted, the legislation permits illegal immigrants to purchase coverage with their own money inside the insurance exchange that would be created — a provision that the 23-member Hispanic Caucus wants retained in any final compromise that reaches Obama's desk.

Who's who in the health care debateOne lawmaker who attended the session, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks, said members of the Hispanic Caucus sought and received assurances from Pelosi that she and the leadership would support them as the bill made its way through the House and ultimately to the president's desk. But this lawmaker said the speaker was not able to get a pledge in return that the Hispanics would all vote for the bill regardless of how their issue was ultimately settled.

Despite the uncertainty, Hispanic lawmakers generally have a strong incentive to support the legislation. According to the Census Bureau, nearly 31 percent of Hispanics are uninsured, roughly double the rate of 15 percent for the U.S. population as a whole.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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