WASHINGTON â€” Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is confident she will be able to get the votes needed to pass sweeping health care legislation in the House, even if it threatens the political careers of some members of her party.
In an interview carried Sunday on ABCâ€™s â€œThis Week,â€ Ms. Pelosi said she was working on changes to a Senate-passed bill that would make it acceptable to the House.
Ms. Pelosi was asked what she would say to House Democrats who were â€œin real fear of losing their seats in November if they support you now.â€
â€œOur members, every one of them, wants health care,â€ Ms. Pelosi said. â€œThey know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.â€
â€œBut,â€ Ms. Pelosi continued, â€œthe American people need it. Why are we here? Weâ€™re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress. Weâ€™re here to do the job for the American people, to get them results that give them not only health security, but economic security.â€
On CNNâ€™s â€œState of the Union,â€ Ms. Pelosi was asked about opinion polls showing opposition to the Democratsâ€™ health care bills.
â€œThe point is that we have a responsibility here,â€ Ms. Pelosi said. â€œThe Republicans have had a field day going out there and misrepresenting what is in the bill, but thatâ€™s what they do.â€
The House passed a bill to remake the health care system in early November. But on Sunday, Ms. Pelosi said, â€œThere isnâ€™t a bill.â€
The speaker said she would have another version, incorporating compromises between the House and the Senate, â€œin a matter of days.â€ When the new package is ready, Ms. Pelosi said, she will sell it to the public.
â€œOur bill, the House and the Senate bill, had some major differences, which weâ€™re hoping now to reconcile,â€ Ms. Pelosi said. â€œThen when we have a bill â€” as I say, you can bake the pie, you can sell the pie, but you have to have a pie to sell. And when we do, we will take it out there.â€
Republicans said Ms. Pelosi and President Obama were pursuing a high-risk strategy.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said, â€œIt would be a political kamikaze mission for the Democratic Party if they jam this through after the American people have been saying, look, weâ€™re trying to tell you in every way we know how, in elections, in surveys, in town hall meetings, we donâ€™t want this bill.â€
Democratic leaders hope to orchestrate passage of health legislation in a three-step process intended to avoid the threat of a filibuster by Senate Republicans. Under this plan, the House would pass the health bill approved in December by the Senate, and both chambers would approve a separate package of changes using a parliamentary device known as budget reconciliation.
But on NBCâ€™s â€œMeet the Pressâ€ on Sunday, the House Republican whip, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, said: â€œIâ€™ll tell you one thing: If Speaker Pelosi rams this bill through the House using a reconciliation process, they will lose their majority in Congress in November.â€