By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
At a meeting of the House Republican conference on Wednesday morning, the Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, told his colleagues that he believed they could defeat the Democrats’ health care legislation, according to officials who heard his remarks.
After paying tribute to his late chief of staff, Paula Nowakowski, who died suddenly over the weekend, Mr. Boehner thanked rank-and-file Republicans for pressing the opposition to the health care legislation over the holiday recess.
“The bottom line is, I believe we can beat this bill,” Mr. Boehner said. “The American people are with us.”
Mr. Boehner urged the Republicans to push for opening up the health care negotiations up to the public, and to continue to engage their constituents on the issue over the coming weeks.
The House approved its version of the health care legislation on Nov. 7 by a vote of 220 to 215, with just one Republican, Representative Anh Gao of Louisiana, joining 219 Democrats in support of the measure. Winning approval of the final measure will require at least 218 votes, giving Democrats little room for defections.