Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats are getting increasingly close to a health care reform vote on the House floor and need to seize the moment, and she pledged to work through recess if need be.
"I always call Washington the city of the perishable. When you've got the votes, you take the vote," she said, punching her left hand hard with her right. "Because if you think you're going to wait around until you get more of this or that -- you just never know what happens."
Pelosi was interviewed Wednesday afternoon by reporters from the Huffington Post, Washington Post and The Nation magazine. Earlier Wednesday, she had assured reporters that she had the votes to pass the health care overhaul, a prediction she repeated in her later interview.
Conservative Democrats in the Senate have been watching their House counterparts, the Blue Dogs, closely as each side pushes for delay in their respective chambers. The GOP has said that the path to killing the bill runs through August, and that if it can be delayed, it is more likely that it can be taken down.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) said some kind of announcement from the Senate Finance Committee would help with negotiations with the Blue Dogs in the House. "I think that some of the negotiations that are going on now will be facilitated by the Senate doing something, because it removes some questions as to what are they doing? What is it that they are doing? I say that respectfully," she said.
When she was asked if the Senate might take that statement as license for delay, she said that it was meant to be the opposite. "I think that they should take it as more pressure for them to go forward, because this could be a chicken and egg forever. And we're not ever going to be a chicken," she said.
Staying in session through August was an option, she said, if that's what it takes to get the bill done. "My view is we're just about there and that it would be better for us to go before the recess. The idea that we should stay here until it is done is one that I'm okay with. The only thing is, if we're done, and they're not done and they're gone, what is the point? It's interesting to me that people are saying, 'Don't leave until it's done.' I don't know how much more we can do if the Senate is not going to move."
The Senate is scheduled to be in session one week longer than the House. "They could come out with something in the next 24 hours," said Pelosi. "I'd be a little more concerned if it were next Wednesday and they still hadn't shown anything, but they have another week."