Hoyer Talks about House Vote on Health Care on MSNBC

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... today. the house is scheduled to convene at the top of the hour as democrats continue to scour their membership for votes in support of the health care reform bill. party leaders say they think they'll have enough votes but today's scheduled vote could slide into tomorrow or perhaps even later. joining me live right now democratic house majority leader congressman steny hoyer of maryland and a good morning to you, sir. >> good morning, alex. good to be with you. >> i'm glad you're here. it's a big day. i know both you and speaker pelosi have been saying for weeks you are very close to getting the 218 votes needed to pass this bill. this morning how many votes do you have in your back pocket? >> we think we'll have 218 by the time we vote on this bill later on this afternoon or early this evening. we think the -- all the members of the democratic caucus without exception believe that we need to pass major health care reform so that we can make health care affordable and accessible for all americans. this bill accomplishes that. there is some disagreement on some issues but there is universal commitment to passing a health care reform bill, so we're confident we'll have the votes later today. >> okay. until that time, sir, there are a couple issues that will be discussed within members of your own party. the serious concern about this bill that some worry that voting for it might seem like they approve of the use of federal funds for abortions. there's also some controversy over whether illegal immigrants will be covered. have you reached a compromise on those issues or is that what still lies ahead today? >> no. we believe that the bill presently provides that no funding will be used for abortion, no federal funding will be used for abortion. there was an amendment out of the energy and commerce committee that's incorporated in the bill that accomplishes that objective and in addition to that, there is going to be an amendment offered in my view which was made an order by the rules committee which will make it very, very clear no funds will be used for abortion. in addition to that, there is, the president has made it very clear, the bill makes it clear there will be no funding for illegal immigrants or undocumented immigrants into this country in this program. so we've made that clear. >> you've made that clear but those members of your party within the hispanic caucus, what are they saying to that? >> i expect the members of the hispanic caucus to support this legislation as it is written. i expect them to be supporting the rule and we'll see what kind of other amendments are going to be offered. if there are other amendments offered on this issue we'll have to see what they are and whether they're consistent with a healthy america. >> the president is set to make a visit to capitol hill today a little more than three hours from now to speak to the democratic caucus. what's the purpose of his visit and what do you expect him to say? >> the president, along with every other presidential candidate last year, republican and democrat, indicated that health care reform needed to be a very, very important part america's agenda. 47 million to 49 million americans uninsured outside of the health care system, subsidized by those who are paying premiums, not participating in providing some contribution towards their own insurance was unacceptable and unsustainable. so the president's coming here as a candidate who said he was going to do something, now as president, who is, in fact, leading the effort to redeem that promise to the american people for which they voted to have health care that's affordable for middle income and all americans. in fact, we just had two elections to the congress of the united states within the last 76 hours and in both of those races health care reform was an issue. in both of those races the democrats won. in one of those districts a democrat hadn't won for a hundred years and health care was the issue. both of those new representatives having just come from the electorate, one on the west coast, one on the east coast, are going to be voting for health care reform. >> all right. let's talk about those members on the other side of the aisle, sir. the gop leaders say all 177 house republicans all stand ready to oppose this bill and claim the public option is a plan for the government to take over the insurance industry. how concerned are you, representative hoyer, about the possibility of not getting any bipartisan support for this bill in the house? >> i very much regret and the president regrets and all of us regret that we haven't had bipartisan engagement in this bill and that we're not going to have apparently bipartisan support. we're not surprised. the republicans have been the party of no for this entire year. they have unanimously voted against almost every effort to move the economy forward, to reinvest in the recovery from the deepest recession we've seen ...