HEADLINES -- March 18, 2010 at 9:15 AM ET
Thursday: Democrats Say Health Bill Will Cut Deficit; Vote Might Be Sunday
President Barack Obama talks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.)
Thursday may be the day House Democratic leaders unveil the fixes they are seeking to the Senate health care bill, setting up a vote on the legislation as early Sunday.
Democrats in the House also released Thursday a preliminary score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on the bill's cost and its impact on the deficit. Speaking to reporters, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the health care reform bill would cut the deficit by more than $100 billion over the first decade and by more than $1 trillion in the second decade.
By Politico's count, Democrats are about eight votes shy of the 216 needed to pass the bill, "but leadership is hopeful that seeing the language and CBO score will begin to change lawmakers' minds."
But with a climactic vote inching closer, the Obama administration and House leadership are still going all out to secure the votes they need. "One of the main thrusts right now is the notion that Democrats need to show that they can govern," the New York Times' David Herszenhorn told Judy Woodruff on Wednesday's PBS NewsHour.
Meantime, President Barack Obama appeared on Fox News Wednesday night to defend the bill and the maneuvering that House leadership is taking to pass the legislation. In an exchange that grew testy at times, the president told Fox News' Bret Baier, "I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what the procedural rules are in the House or the Senate."
President to Sign Jobs Bill
President Obama on Thursday will sign a jobs bill one day after it was passed by the Senate with 11 Republican votes. The $17.6 billion measure is designed to spur hiring by exempting businesses from payroll taxes through the end of the year if they hire workers who have been unemployed for at least 60 days. The bill also pumps $20 billion into federal highway and mass-transit construction programs.
CIA: al-Qaeda Is 'On the Run'
Stepped-up attacks against al-Qaeda in Pakistan have driven the terror network deeper into hiding and hobbled its ability to plot large-scale attacks, CIA Director Leon Panetta told the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Said Panetta: "It's pretty clear from all the intelligence we are getting that they are having a very difficult time putting together any kind of command and control, that they are scrambling. And that we really do have them on the run."
Clinton Arrives in Moscow
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Moscow on Thursday for talks with her Russian counterpart on a new nuclear reductions pact. A senior U.S. official told the BBC that both sides "are making very good progress" in the effort to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired in December. The United States has more than 2,000 nuclear weapons, while Russia is thought to have around 3,000.