How Close Are Democrats To Securing 216 Votes?

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) sounded fairly optimistic that Democrats would secure 216 votes to pass reform before the end of the week, telling Bill Press this morning, “We’re getting there. Momentum is in the right direction.” Asked if he would bet that Democrats would have the votes before the end of the week, Van Hollen suggested that the party could have enough votes by Sunday:

VAN HOLLEN: I would bet we have the votes certainly by the time the President is ready to depart. But we’re working very hard to get there. But yes, if I was a betting man, I would do that. I am for time to time a betting man.


Van Hollen’s comments come on the heels of House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson’s (D-CT) rosy assessment that Democrats “have the votes and that we will get this bill done this week” and Speaker Pelosi’s reassurances at yesterday’s meeting with progressive bloggers.

House members are still waiting to see the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates of the reconciliation package before committing to a vote, however, and some Democrats are growing anxious. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) — who expressed great optimism about securing enough votes earlier this month — told McClatchy newspapers today that the vote could be delayed until Easter. “The chances are good, but I wouldn’t bet on it,” Clyburn said. “I need 216 votes to pass this bill,” Clyburn told McClatchy. “I think I’m going to get 216 votes. It could be closer than last time. All I want is 216 votes.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) tells POLITICO “he thinks leadership is seriously struggling to marshal the votes.” “They’re calling the hardnosed people…who have put out firm statements saying no,” he said. “They wouldn’t be doing that if they were anywhere close.”