Unless a deal is struck with Stupak, Dems appear to be short on votes
By Bob Cusack - 03/21/10 02:20 PM ET
Hours before a scheduled vote on healthcare reform, Democratic leaders don't have the votes.
The decisions of two Tennessee Democrats, Reps. John Tanner and Lincoln Davis, to vote no has put President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her lieutenants in a major bind.
If every member votes, Democratic leaders can only afford 37 defections. According to The Hill's whip list, there are 39 Democrats planning to vote no.
Furthermore, The Hill also has seven Democrats in the undecided/unclear column: Reps Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Paul Kanjorski (Pa.), Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Bobby Rush (Ill.) and Loretta Sanchez (Calif.).
There have been various reports on Sunday that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and other anti-abortion lawmakers have agreed to an abortion deal involving an executive order from the Obama administration. However, Stupak's office are strongly denying those reports.
Even though several Democratic leaders said they had the votes on Saturday, Stupak said on Sunday he and others were involved in intense negotiations with the White House late on Saturday night. The Saturday night talks strongly suggest Democrats are short of the 216 necessary.
On Sunday morning, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Democratic leaders did not have 216 hard commitments.
Some believe there are a few lawmakers on The Hill's Firm No, Leaning No, Likely No list who could vote yes, including Reps. Marion Berry (Ark.), Rick Boucher (Va.) and Mike McMahon (N.Y.) and perhaps others.
The problem for Pelosi is that is she gets Stupak on board, she may lose abortion rights legislators, such as Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.).
Pelosi struck a deal with Stupak last November on abortion language. That bill passed, 220-215.
The Hill whip list can be accessed here