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Betting on the House (Updated)

Prediction: If health care reform comes up for a vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow, it will pass.

OK, that’s not much of a prediction. Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t actually bring a bill to the floor unless she has the votes. And as of late Friday afternoon, she didn’t. On Capitol Hill, staff began talking about the possibility of a postponement until Sunday, or even early next week.

The sticking points are the ones you’ve read about elsewhere: abortion and immigration. On both issues, Pelosi and her lieutenants spent the day reaching out to both sides of each debate, trying to find mutually acceptable language. But the efforts kept failing.

Meanwhile, plenty of members are downright unhappy about the bill, because they think it’s too ambitious or, at least, more ambitious than what the Senate is likely to support. And they don’t want to take “hard votes” like raising taxes (even if it’s only on the very wealthy) if it’s not necessary. For more on the different groups--and where they stand--see Ezra Klein’s writeup here.

President Obama is still planning on paying a visit to the House on Saturday, to make a personal appeal in front of the entire Democratic caucus. He’ll remind them of the bill’s historical significance--and, you can be sure, its political significance. It’s nothing they haven’t heard before, of course. But don’t underestimate the ability of the president, in person, to change a few minds.

Update: As of Saturday morning, it's all systems go. A source reports that an abortion deal is in place, but that it's "very fragile." Pelosi either has the votes or is confident that she will have them, particularly after the presidential visit. For those who want to follow the debate today, the Washington Post has a great "viewer's guide" on everything from the debate over the Rule to the possibility that Republicans could derail things with a "motion to recommit."