President Obama has delayed his upcoming trip to the Pacific in order to pressure wavering House Democrats to back his health care reform. Obama was originally supposed to depart next Thursday, March 18. Now he'll leave Sunday the 21st. But that is still five days earlier than the Democrats' self-imposed deadline of March 26, when Congress is scheduled to begin its Easter Recess. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if Obama postpones the Asia trip until April. He and the leadership are engaged in a full-court press to win every vote.
Is it working? Not at the moment. There aren't 216 votes in the House for Obamacare. As Rep. Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, tells the New York Times this morning, it's hard to vote for something you haven't seen. Chances are we'll have a better picture of the final legislative package, including the details and cost of the reconciliation fixes, sometime next week.
The cw is that yesterday's ruling by the Senate parliamentarian hurt the bill's prospects. The parliamentarian said the Senate could not pursue reconciliation until the bill it passed in December becomes law. That means the House will have to act first, and without truly knowing whether the Senate will ever "fix" what even many Democrats say is a flawed bill. Rep. Michael Capuano, Democrat of Massachusetts, says he is leaning toward voting No because he can't trust the Senate. The latest whip count is here.
Political junkies: Be happy! We are in for a couple of very interesting weeks.