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GOP Rep. Nathan Deal Postpones Retirement to Fight Health Bill

(AP)
Georgia Republican Rep. Nathan Deal announced Monday that he would leave Congress on March 8th to focus on running for governor. Today, citing the health care fight, he changed his mind.

"Yesterday, as I listened to President Obama's aggressive push for a quick vote on 'Obama-Care,' it was clear that I must stay in Congress and continue to fight against the most liberal health care agenda ever proposed," Deal said in a statement issued by his gubernatorial campaign.

Had Deal gone through with his retirement, it would have meant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would need one fewer vote to pass health care, because there would be one fewer house member. (Her magic number would have dropped to 216, with 431 legislators in the House total.) Now, however, she again needs 217 votes to pass a bill.

The White House is pushing for a health care vote by March 18th, while House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says he is hoping for a vote before the March 29 Easter break.

"The big fight is going to be in the House," House Republican Leader John Boehner said on The Lars Larson radio show Thursday, noting that the Senate-passed bill must get through the chamber. "This is where we can stop it now that they've decided to go on this expedited procedure in the Senate."

More Coverage of the Health Care Debate:

Reps. Weiner, Stupak: Senate Should Go First on Health Care
Sebelius: People are "Frightened" by Insurance Rate Hikes
White House Releases Letter From Cancer Patient Natoma Canfield
White House: Health Care Quid Pro Quo Charge "Very Silly"
Obama: Congress Owes America a Vote on Health Care
McConnell to Dems: Vote for Health Care at Your Own Risk
Liberal Groups: Just Get it Done
Special Report: Health Care Reform