Obama Delays International Trip, Says Health Bill Is Rx for Deficit

Pelosi, D-Calif., needs 216 votes -- a majority of the House's 431 members -- to pass the Senate bill and changes to it. About 23 lawmakers are still undecided or have said they will vote "No" on the current health care bill.

Democratic leaders still do not have all the votes they need to pass the health care bill in the House, but they appear to be inching closer to that number, nabbing the votes of several key lawmakers -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., and Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Co.

If they are not able to garner enough votes, Democratic leaders have hinted they may employ a parliamentary maneuver dubbed as "deem and pass."

The controversial procedure would allow House members to vote on health care changes without ever voting directly on the Senate bill. In this case, the House would vote on a "fix it" measure that would make changes to the Senate health care bill and then automatically, in the process, pass the bill without actually having to vote on it.

The procedure has been used 20 times over the last 30 years by both Democrats and Republicans, often on technical or unpopular measures like raising the debt limit, but never on one as big as health care reform.

Republicans have opposed such a measure, charging that it has never been used for a bill this size and that using it would just be a way of fooling the American public.

All 41 Republican senators have vowed to do everything in their power to kill Democrats' health care legislation and vote together against procedural motions that Democrats want to use to "fix" the health care reform bill passed Christmas Eve by the Senate.

Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called on undecided members of Congress to vote against the bill. "It's not too late," McConnell said at a press conference where he was joined by GOP leaders from both the House and Senate.

Obama Ups Pressure on Undecided Lawmakers

President Obama has ratcheted up the pressure on undecided Democrats, personally reaching out to those party members in the House who are still undecided or are vowing to vote "No."

In an interview with Fox News Wednesday, the president appealed to the constituents of conservative House Democrats to urge them to vote "Yes."

"What I can tell you is that the vote that's taken in the House will be a vote for health care reform. And if people vote yes, whatever form that takes, that is going to be a vote for health care reform. And I don't think we should pretend otherwise," Obama said in an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier. "If they don't, if they vote against, then they're going to be voting against health care reform and they're going to be voting in favor of the status quo.

"So Washington gets very concerned about these procedural issues in Congress. This is always an issue that's -- whether Republicans are in charge or Democrats in charge -- when Republicans are in charge, Democrats constantly complain that the majority was not giving them an opportunity, et cetera," he added.

The president was referring to the controversy surrounding the parliamentary procedure Democrats may use if they cannot get the 216 votes they need.

Vice President Biden joked about the difficulties of tackling the health care bill at the annual Radio-TV Correspondents dinner Wednesday evening.

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