HEALTH REFORM -- January 19, 2010 at 5:21 PM ET
Pelosi: Health Reform Talks 'On Track' as Democrats Eye Mass. Race
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that negotiations between House and Senate Democratic leaders over health care reform are still "on course," even as nervous Democrats await the result of a special election in Massachusetts that could deny them a crucial 60th vote for reform in the Senate.
"In spite of all the activity that I know you're aware of in Massachusetts and the rest, we're still on course to resolving the differences between the House and the Senate bill," Pelosi told reporters.
She said there were still policy differences to work out between the two chambers' versions of the bill, after a push last week to resolve budget-related differences and send those compromise portions of the bill to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate.
Asked whether she had heard anything from the White House about a contingency plan if the Democrats lose their 60th vote Tuesday night, Pelosi said no.
"We are on the path that we are on, which is to reconcile our differences," she said.
But other Democrats have been more willing to discuss possible fallout from Tuesday's election, should Democrat Martha Coakley lose to Republican Scott Brown.
"I think you can make a pretty good argument that health care might be dead" if Brown wins, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Meanwhile, speculation continued about Democrats' options for passing a reform plan without that 60th vote. Those options include voting on a compromise bill in both chambers in the next two weeks before the new senator is certified, and convincing the House to pass the Senate version of the bill unaltered, perhaps with a promise of later budget-related changes that only require 51 Senate votes.
On Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer refused to speculate about whether the House would accept such an agreement. However, giving tepid praise, he did say that the Senate bill was "better than nothing."