Temperature Rising for Health Care Votes

President Obama's push for health care reform picked up a key vote Wednesday from someone the president had lobbied hard - Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. But the arm-twisting and vote-counting continue, as CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reports from Capitol Hill.

Not two weeks ago, Kucinich told CBS News there was no way he could vote for the health care bill.

"My position is pretty well established," he said.

But that was before he got the hard sell from the president, including some one-on-one time on Air Force One. Whatever Mr. Obama said to him - it worked.

"Even though I don't like the bill, I've made a decision to, a decision to support it," Kucinich said Wednesday. Mr. Obama called it "a good sign"

Special Report: Health Care Reform

Still, a Democratic victory is far from assured. There are currently 431 members of the House of Representatives. Assuming all Republicans vote no, Speaker Pelosi needs 216 Democrats to vote yes - meaning she can afford to lose 37 of her members at most.

As of now, CBS has tallied 19 Democrats who say they plan to vote no; 48 more say they are on the fence.

Those members are getting so many calls from constituents on both sides that house phone lines were overloaded today. Back in their home districts, the pressure is just as intense.

Supporters and opponents of the legislation have been holding rallies, chanting "Just vote no!" "We want healthcare," and "Get off the fence."

The Democrats are aiming for a vote this weekend.

"We're going to do it as soon as it's ready to be brought to the floor," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. "As soon as we have the CBO numbers that we can have confidence in, and I would say that Saturday and Sunday are possibilities."

More Coverage of Health Care Reform:

Republicans Have Used "Slaughter Solution" Many Times
Countdown to Health Care Vote Spurs Final Push
Door Closed on Health Care Protesters
Cloudy Skies Start Clearing for Dems
GOP Tries to Block "Slaughter Solution" in Health Care Vote
Liberal Groups Turn on Dems to Pass Health Care Reform

But Republicans are threatening to go all the way to the Supreme Court if Democrats try to use a parliamentary short-cut to pass a set of fixes to the Senate bill without voting on the controversial bill itself.

"There is no instance in the history of the United States of America where major legislation has been sent to the president's desk without an up or down vote on the floor of the House and the floor of the Senate," Republican Mike Pence of Illinois said.

One hot button issue that appears to be fading in importance is abortion. Another anti-abortion rights Democrat said today he's fine with the language in the Senate bill and will vote yes. And a group of Catholic leaders representing 59,000 nuns sent a letter to members saying they too support the bill and do not believe it provides federal funding for abortion.

Watch CBS News video of Rep. Kucinich's announcement:

  • CBSNews

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter