There are two ways to count votes for the Democrats’ national health care plan. The first is to tally the lawmakers who are definitely yes or leaning yes. The second is to count the ones who are definitely no and leaning no.
From the Republican side, it’s the second group that matters. Just like Democrats need 216 votes to pass the bill, Republicans and their Democratic allies need 216 to stop it. I just got off the phone with a well-placed House GOP source, and the Republicans’ latest count is that there are 209 votes against the bill at this moment, leaving opponents seven short of being able to defeat it. By the same count, there are 204 votes for the bill, leaving the Democratic leadership 12 short of being able to pass it. There are 18 votes thought to be undecided.
This is the way it breaks down. There are 431 members of the House, 253 Democrats and 178 Republicans. All the Republicans oppose the bill. At the moment, GOP sources believe that more than 30 — they think it’s 31 — Democrats are opposed. Those Democrats are motivated by a variety of concerns. “It’s abortion, it’s cost control, it’s taxes, it’s Medicare, and for some of them, it’s just their district,” says the GOP source.
Of the 18 Democrats who are undecided, Republicans will have to win seven votes to prevail, provided Republicans do in fact have 209 votes now. The Democratic leadership would have to win over 12 undecideds, if in fact Democrats are at 204 now.