Anyone trying to delay the House floor vote on health reform should know they're not leaving until it's done, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Friday.
Democratic leaders are still working to nail down the 218 votes they need to pass the House health care bill, slated for a vote Saturday night, but Hoyer told reporters on a conference call that if the floor debate takes longer than expected, members will have to return on Sunday afternoon, then Monday and Tuesday if necessary.
Coming in Monday or Tuesday might not sound extraordinary, but the House had been planning to take most or all of the coming week off for Veterans Day. Working on Saturday is already unusual for Congress, so Hoyer's threat to cancel their vacation plans might actually dissuade Republicans from trying to derail the vote or wayward Democrats from slowing it down to wring more concessions from leadership.
"My expectation is that that will not be needed," Hoyer said. "But clearly, things happen, and delaying tactics can be employed which would take longer than the Saturday early-evening projected end of the debate and the votes. So all I've done is to make sure everybody understands that we're going to complete this effort."
In the meantime, Hoyer acknowledged that leadership is still addressing concerns from some Democrats that the health reform bill doesn't do enough to deny federal funding for abortion services or health care for undocumented immigrants. As it stands, the bill doesn't provide either, but small coalitions of Dems are still pushing to change the final language on those points. "Obviously those are issues of great concern," Hoyer said. "We are working on those issues now."