House Democrats officially gained 2 and lost 2 on Thursday as they continued their painstaking zigzag toward 216 votes and final passage of a sweeping health care overhaul, now likely on Sunday….
The arithmetic for Democratic leaders is simple: If they can hold on to all 216 of the Democrats who voted for House passage and are still serving, they win. But rounding up those supporters has proved tricky. And they need to offset every defection by converting someone who voted against the original measure.
Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) dismissed the threat of minimal defections. “We’ve got a surplus. We’ve got some spares,” she said….
The gravest threat remains abortion language in the Senate version…. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) has led opposition to the provision, but just how many lawmakers are behind him remains unclear, and leaders are hoping they can hold abortion-related defections down to about five….
Leaders scrambled, meanwhile, to defend their preferred procedural strategy for passing the bill. The “Slaughter Solution”… has become a focus of Republican attacks this week…. [T]he procedural path forward remained an open question after Republicans appeared to have connected with their withering criticism of the “deem and pass” method.
[Photo of Stupak with Obama in the WH Rose Garden today via the Associated Press]