The votes will be there to approve comprehensive healthcare reform, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a news conference.
Asked if congressional Democrats would be able to muster the 218 votes needed to approve the Affordable Health Care for America Act, Pelosi said, “We will,” adding that she was buoyed by recent endorsements of powerful lobbying groups such as AARP and the American Cancer Society. These groups “convey a message to the American people in a way politicians can't,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi criticized an alternative reform bill released by Republicans, claiming it was “scandalous” that the legislation would do nothing to protect people with pre-existing conditions. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the GOP alternative found the legislation would reduce the deficit by $68 billion over 10 years, but cover about only 3 million more people, compared with 36 million under the Democrats' bill.
Lawmakers are still working to resolve lingering arguments over abortion funding and the benefits offered to illegal immigrants. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus in particular is concerned a that provision may be added to bar illegal immigrants from purchasing private insurance through the bill's health insurance exchange.