The House has already cast one important vote on health care reform today, agreeing by a 224-206 margin on a vote establishing the rules for floor debate as they proceed to the two key votes on final passage later tonight.
All whip counts show between 216 and 218 yesses on the votes for final passage, although most account for a few undecideds which could push the total higher. Comparing against the New York Times’s whip count — we find that among those Democrats projected to vote NO on final passage, five voted YES on the procedural vote: Jason Altmire, Marion Berry, Larry Kissell, Collin Peterson, and Harry Teague.
Among the four Democrats that the Times listed as undecided, Jerry Costello voted YES, but Rick Boucher, Dan Lipinski and Lincoln Davis (whom other sources regard as a solid no) voted NO. Bobby Rush, who was technically undecided as of this morning but was not listed by the Times that way, voted YES.
Harry Mitchell, projected to vote yes on final package, voted NO on the rules bill.
Otherwise, all the votes were consistent with those projected on final passage, including NOs from Stephen Lynch, Mike Arcuri, Joseph Cao, and YES votes from Loretta Sanzhez, Paul Kanjorski, Pete DeFazio, Mike Michaud, and Jim Cooper, who made their decisions somewhat late in the process.
My guess is that in addition to the 218 YES votes that the Times lists, Costello will also vote YES, as will one of the five “surprise” yesses on the procedural vote — although bear in mind that it’s not uncommon for Congressmen (particularly those in party leadership positions) to vote yes on process votes and no on final passage. That would bring the Democrats’ total to 220. But Mitchell, in a tough race in AZ-5, should also be watched for a potential defection.
It’s also important to remember that there are two important votes on substance that the House will cast tonight: one on the Senate’s bill and the other on the package of reconciliation fixes. The reconciliation bill — relatively more popular with the rank-and-file — could conceivably pick up a couple of yes votes that the Senate bill does not.