I was just on a progressive new media call with Speaker Pelosi on the health care bill. Quick report:
Vote in two weeks, or more. Speaker Pelosi anticipates that there will be a vote next week or the week after "under the best of circumstances." So really, two weeks is the earliest there will be a vote on final passage.
No amendments (yet). She has not given thought to floor amendments at this time ("I have not gone to that place" was the exact quote). She would have to be talked into amendments, but she is open to it. Further, she added that those who are opposed to the bill will have procedural options on the floor other than amendments, such as motions to recommit and instructions to conferees.
On Bart Stupak. In what was almost certainly a reference to Bart Stupak's efforts to disallow any health insurance plans in the new exchanges from covering abortions, she said that "no poison pill" amendments that would kill the entire bill would be allowed. If offered, Stupak's amendment would probably pass, and then the entire bill would go down because it would lsoe dozens of pro-choice Democratic votes.
Relationship with the White House. On whether the White House offered enough support during the process, the Speaker said "we're good" and "no complaints."
Kucinich amendment. I asked the Speaker about whether the bill contained the Kucinich amendment allowing states to adopt single-payer health care. The Speaker replied that the bill did not include this amendment, noting that it only passed through committee in the first place due to Republican support. She did say that she is meeting with Representatives Kucinich and Weiner later today to discuss what happens next for single-payer.
Single-payer substitute amendment. On bringing a substitute amendment on single-payer to the floor (Representative Weiner's desired amendment), she said that such an amendment cannot be brought to the floor until it is scored by the CBO. Whether or not such a score will come to pass will almost certainly be discussed in her meeting with Representatives Weiner and Kucinich later today.
On the Senate bill. Referring to the Senate, she said "we're the strongest bill on the table."
Millions already reading the bill. As of 2:45 p.m., there were over 8.2 million downloads of the health care bill. Which is probably why the Speaker's blog is crashing.
Although Speaker Pelosi did not say so on the call, the whip operation for the health care bill was demanding answers from all members by 3:00 p.m. eastern. So, right now they are probably adding up the results, and seeing if they are at 218 or not. More information as I receive it.