QUOTE OF THE DAY…. The House Republican caucus has, not surprisingly, been counting heads in advance of a House vote on health care reform. As of today, the whip operation is looking at unanimous opposition … or something very close to it.

Republicans will overwhelmingly reject the Democrats’ healthcare reform measure when it is reaches the House floor, according to a key lawmaker.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who serves as deputy GOP whip, told The Hill that the number of Republicans supporting the sweeping legislation will be “very, very close to zero.”

So, why is this the Quote of the Day? Because I’d long assumed it was a foregone conclusion that every House Republican would vote against reform, just as every House Republican voted against the economic recovery package and against this year’s budget plan. That the number is “very, very close to zero,” and not already “zero,” suggests there may, quite possibly, be a GOP vote or two for reform.

It never occurred to me that this was possible.

This may have some practical relevance. The House leadership can lose as many as 40 Democratic votes and still get a majority in the chamber. Even if just one or two Republicans decided to support reform, it would give the Speaker’s office just a little more wiggle room with some of the more problematic members of the Democratic caucus.

For the record, I’m skeptical that a single Republican will break ranks on the bill. GOP members know they’d catch all manner of hell, and the party leadership would probably punish them severely.

Still, “very, very close to zero” suggests a vote or two may be in play. The smart money is still on zero, but it’s an angle to keep an eye on.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.