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Health Debate Winds Down; Dingell Set to Close

The House is winding down its four-hour debate on the Democratic health care bill and preparing for a final vote after 9:30 p.m. Veteran Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who proceeded over the beginning of the debate, is set to close for the Democrats, who are convinced they now have the votes to pass the bill.

Steps awaiting action before the final vote include a 20-minute debate on Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) anti-abortion amendment, an hourlong debate on a GOP substitute bill, at least a 30-minute vote on both of those measures, a 10-minute debate on a motion to recommit and a 20-minute vote on the motion to recommit.

In the buildup to the final vote, speculation is swirling as to whether Stupak has the votes to pass his amendment, which includes a permanent ban on abortion coverage for any insurance plan in the exchange paid for with a federal subsidy. Pro-abortion-rights Democrats, angry that the vote is even coming to the floor, have been whipping against the amendment.

GOP leaders are also keeping a running tally of Democrats planning to oppose the bill. Their latest e-mail lists 33 Democrats who have “joined Republicans in a bipartisan fashion to oppose Speaker Pelosi’s trillion dollar plus overhaul of the nation’s health care system.—

Those Democrats, many of whom are Blue Dogs, include Reps. John Adler (N.J.), Brian Baird (Wash.), John Barrow (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Rick Boucher (Va.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), Bobby Bright (Ala.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Artur Davis (Ala.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), Chet Edwards (Texas), Bart Gordon (Tenn.), Parker Griffith (Ala.), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla), Frank Kratovil (Md.), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Eric Massa (N.Y.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Michael McMahon (N.Y.), Charlie Melancon (La.), Walt Minnick (Idaho), Glenn Nye (Va.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Mike Ross (Ark.), Ike Skelton (Mo.), John Tanner (Tenn.), Gene Taylor (Miss.) and Harry Teague (N.M.).

Republicans are staying tight-lipped on the details of their motion to recommit, which is rumored to be anything from a provision to bar illegal immigrants from purchasing health insurance to comprehensive tort reform to medical malpractice reform.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will offer the motion.

Despite their tough talk, Republicans have largely refrained from delay tactics throughout the day’s debate. The only dust-up came when, during the rule debate, a group led by Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) repeatedly interrupted Democratic women who requested permission to extend their remarks.

Jackie Kucinich contributed to this story.