Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer confer (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have tentatively scheduled a final vote on the House's version of healthcare reform legislation for this afternoon at 6pm.
The House Republican Caucus and each of its 177 members are firmly opposed to this bill. It is widely thought, in fact, that the Democratic leadership lacks the 218 votes necessary to pass this 1990-page piece of legislation. President Obama is expected on Capitol Hill today to make a final push to corral last-minute votes. If the Democratic leadership and President Obama are unable to get the 218 votes that they need, procedural rules will be invoked to postpone a final vote until they're confident of passage.
Conservative Democrats have strongly objected to language that they believe is not strong enough concerning a prohibition against the use of federal subsidy monies for abortion. Meanwhile, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has concerns that this bill does not allow undocumented, illegal immigrants to purchase insurance under the public insurance option. The president, who has invested considerable time and political capital in this issue, has been firm in stating that he will not support a bill that offers public funds either for abortion or illegal immigrants. Majority Leader Hoyer claims, "the bill presently provides no federal funding will be used for abortion...there will be no funding for illegal immigrants." Because the Republicans have all said that they will not support this bill and none of their amendments are being considered, these are, at present, the only roadblocks to this bill's passage.
Once this bill passes, however, it will need to be reconciled in a conference committee with the Senate's considerably more moderate version of healthcare reform that may not pass until early next year.