WASHINGTON - With pressure mounting and a weekend vote likely, Washington Congressman Adam Smith was apparently edging closer to endorsing Democratic health care legislation Thursday.
Smith’s movement came after the Congressional Budget Office said it would cut the federal deficit by $138 billion over 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the following decade if approved.
“I think the CBO numbers are positive,” the Tacoma Democrat said in a statement.
Even after a lengthy Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama, Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, remained undecided.
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“Nothing has changed,” said Adam Hudson, a Baird spokesman.
Baird was being lobbied from as far away as Olympia.
In a letter, two legislative committee chairwomen urged him to support the measure.
“This has been a decade in the making,” said Democratic Sen. Karen Keiser and Democratic Rep. Eileen Cody. “The opportunity is not coming our way again soon. Washington state needs the assistance that federal reform will bring in controlling the increasing fiscal impact of health care.”
Keiser chairs the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee. Cody chairs the House Health and Wellness Committee.
The four other Democrats in the Washington state delegation are expected to support the bill, while the state’s three Republican House members will vote no.
Democratic leaders were closing in on the 216 votes needed to pass the measure, but they were still short. Democrats control 253 House seats.
Both Smith and Baird are considered fiscal hawks and have been concerned about the effect health care reform would have on the federal deficit.
“These numbers demonstrate that this bill will not only help reduce costs in the short term, but also help to reduce overall long-term health care costs,” Smith said of the CBO numbers.
Baird, who is not seeking re-election, has reportedly woken up in the middle of the night to read the Senate version of the health care bill, which the House is being asked to pass. Last week, he said he wouldn’t make up his mind until he had read everything.
Baird’s trip to the Oval Office on Tuesday was his first in his 12 years in office.
House Democratic leaders on Thursday rolled out a series of changes to the bill that both the House and the Senate will eventually have to approve.
David Lightman of McClatchy’s Washington, D.C., bureau contributed to this report.
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