March 19, 2010 / 2:15 PM / in 7 years

Hoyer: House will pass healthcare reform bill

2 Min Read

<p>A patient waits in the hallway for a room to open up in the emergency room at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas, July 27, 2009.Jessica Rinaldi</p>

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House of Representatives Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said on Friday that Democrats would have the support necessary to pass the healthcare reform bill in a vote expected on Sunday.

"We're going to have the votes," Hoyer told reporters after a morning meeting with House Democrats.

Jim Clyburn, the main Democratic vote-counter in the House, said, "I feel very sure that we will vote sometime after 2 (p.m. EDT/1800 GMT) on Sunday and the bill will pass."

Their comments came as Democratic leaders scrambled to cobble together the 216 votes needed to pass the massive overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system.

Congressional budget analysts said on Thursday the proposed overhaul would cut the U.S. deficit over 10 years and sharply expand insurance coverage, boosting the momentum for final passage in the House.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would expand healthcare coverage to 32 million Americans at a cost of $940 billion over 10 years. It would cut the deficit by $138 billion in the same period through new fees, taxes and cost-saving measures, the CBO said.

President Barack Obama postponed a scheduled visit to Indonesia and Australia to help round up support for his top legislative priority and was scheduled to speak on healthcare reform in Virginia on Friday.

Reporting by John Whitesides and Donna Smith, editing by Stacey Joyce

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