Moving right along

MOVING RIGHT ALONG…. As you may have heard, the House passed the rule on health care reform.

House Democrats have approved the rule for debate on the healthcare bill, moving them one step closer toward a final vote on the legislation.

The rule was passed 224-206, with 28 Democrats voting against the measure. All Republicans cast “no” votes. A procedural vote on the rules passed by a similar count, 228-202.

The tally is a key test vote for Democrats, who hours earlier were able to bring aboard Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) anti-abortion rights voting bloc by striking a compromise with the White House.

Under House procedure, lawmakers must approve the rules for debate before taking up actual legislation.

The vote allows formal debate to begin on the healthcare bill.

Here’s the roll call; note that 28 Dems voted with Republicans in opposition. It’s the first of the three key votes.

The next vote will apparently be on the Senate reform bill, followed by a vote on the reconciliation package.

For those still keeping track, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) looks like a “no,” Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) is a “yes,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) is inexplicably still a “no,” and Marion Berry (D-Ark.) is a “no.” Berry is perhaps the only surprise — he voted “no” in November, but he’s retiring. He cited abortion as his motivation, putting him even further to the right than Stupak on the issue.

As for an end-game, rumor has it that we can expect a final vote around 11:30 p.m. (ET).

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Steve Benen

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.