WASHINGTON — Nine House Democrats indicated in an Associated Press survey Monday that they have not ruled out switching their "no" votes to "yes" on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, brightening the party's hopes in the face of unyielding Republican opposition.
The White House tried to smooth the way for them, showing its own openness to changes in the landmark legislation and making a point of saying the administration is not using parliamentary tricks or loopholes to find the needed support.
Democratic leaders have strongly signaled they will use a process known as "budget reconciliation" to try to push part of the package through the Senate without allowing Republicans to talk it to death with filibusters. The road could be even more difficult in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is struggling to secure enough Democratic votes for approval, thus the effort to attract former foes.
The White House said Obama will outline his final "way forward" in a Washington speech Wednesday, and he is expected to embrace a handful of Republican ideas for making health care more efficient.
Few in Washington think those gestures will be enough to persuade a single House or Senate Republican to embrace the legislation. But they could give wavering Democrats political cover by showing the party has been willing to compromise.
At least nine of the 39 Democrats — or their spokesmen — either declined to state their positions or said they were undecided about the revised legislation, making them likely targets for intense wooing by Pelosi and Obama. Three — Brian Baird of Washington, Bart Gordon of Tennessee and John Tanner of Tennessee — are not seeking re-election this fall. The others include Suzanne Kosmas of Florida.