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Health reform endgame: What to expect this weekend

Barring last minute complications, the House will vote on the healthcare bill this weekend. Here's how the final push is likely to play out

The health-care reform debate that has polarized America for months could reach a climax this weekend with the House of Representatives widely expected to vote on the Senate bill. The dramatic tension remains very much intact: As of Friday, Dems had secured fewer than 200 of the minimum 216 "yes" votes they'll require. Here, a guide to what you'll probably be seeing over the next 48 hours as Democratic leaders make their final push to get health-care reform through the House:

WHAT TO EXPECT SATURDAYLots of "arm-twisting"President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and their lieutenants will spend the last hours trying to reach the "magic number" of 216 House votes, says Sam Stein in the Huffington Post — the "arm-twisting" of undecided congressmen is expected to continue until the final moments before Sunday's vote. (For the latest tally, see The Hill's "Whip Count.")

Business as usualMeanwhile, the House is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. Even if they're preoccupied with health care, representatives will consider the other bills on the slate for this weekend, such as the Public Lands Service Crops Act.

The unveiling of "deem and pass"Before a bill can be considered by the House, a procedure — or "rule" — for debating, amending, and voting on it must be agreed upon by the Rules Committee. This body will meet on Saturday morning, and will almost certainly introduce discuss the controversial "deem and pass" rule (read The Week's guide to "deem and pass"). [UPDATE: House Democratic leaders have reversed themselves and decided against using "deem and pass," selecting instead a more standard "rule."]

A presidential pep talkThe President has invited every Democratic congressman to a 4 p.m. "pump up" session. The short meeting will give the President "the chance to make his case one final time," reports Laura Meckler in the Wall Street Journal.

WHAT TO EXPECT SUNDAY

Voting on rulesThe House will take a rules vote under consideration at 1 p.m., voting on it after a short debate. [UPDATE: As the Democrats are no longer planning to use "deem and pass," this will likely now be a minor procedural vote.]

The "up-or-down" voteAfter two hours of debate, the House is expected to have the long-promised "up-or-down vote" on health-care reform (specifically, on the Senate bill). The bill will need 216 votes to pass.

Fixes to the Senate billAssuming the Senate bill passes, the House next begin debate on a set of changes — known as the "reconciliation package" — to that same bill. The final vote could come in the wee hours.

UPDATE: This item has been update to reflect the House Democrats' decision not to use the "deem and pass" rule for passing the Senate bill.

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