WASHINGTON -- Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, said on Thursday she feels no obligation to pass the bill to fund government for the remainder of the year, in part because the agreement was reached without her input.
"I feel no ownership of that or any responsibility to it, except that we do not want to shut down the government," Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference a few hours before the vote.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will likely need votes from Democrats to pass the budget deal, which was hammered out at the eleventh hour to prevent a government shutdown last week. Both Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were left out of negotiations over government funding.
McConnell kept away from negotiations partly because he and Boehner agreed it would be better to exclude Pelosi, said a source who is familiar with what occurred.
In the end, no women were given a voice in the final negotiations, which took place between high-level staffers for Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House. The final deal involved a major battle over women's health, including debates about blocking government funds to Planned Parenthood and banning the District of Columbia for using its own tax revenue to fund abortions for low-income women.
Pelosi has criticized the House GOP for including women's health in the spending deal. But she declined on Thursday to announce publicly how she plans to vote.
"As was pretty evident, the House Democrats were not a part of that agreement," she said, adding that she doesn't "have any idea" how many Democrats will vote against it.
But according to a House Democratic aide, as few as 50 Democrats may vote for the funding bill, leaving Boehner less room for defections within his conference.
Boehner has said he expects the bill to pass. But Pelosi has not made many efforts to ensure Democrats will be able to push the bill over the edge if it does not receive adequate Republican support. She said the Democrats have not whipped the vote or encouraged their members to vote one way or another.
"As is clearly evident, [Boehner] spoke for the House of Representatives in these negotiations for his majority," she said. "I have always thought that if he couldn't get 218 votes that there would be Democrats who could put it over the top. It's just a question of how many."
Mike McAuliff contributed to this report.
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