Some Democrats, and a bunch of reporters who are characteristically averse to both research and reflective thought, are mooing "OMG the vote was so close, Pelosi can't get to 218 on the conference bill!!"
First of all, let's remember that the House vote wasn't as close as it looked: we know that Pelosi had more votes than she needed so she let some gutless Blue Dogs vote "no" at the last minute.
Second, Pelosi can persuade some "No" voters to switch back for the conference vote, on the reason that they already kowtowed to their Blue Dogs at home by voting "no" on the first bill, and their constituents mostly want the public option anyway: when your President and party leader ask for your vote in the conference bill, you damn well better fall in line. Some voted "no" because the bill was too liberal while others thought it was too conservative but Pelosi will be able to get some of each group back. The House, unlike the Senate, actually has some discipline.
Third, the three big differences between the House and Senate bills -- the opt-out, the abortion provision, and the financing issue -- will be easy to reconcile, generally in favor of the Senate version, because the House financing formula is more expensive, because Pelosi already said she is okay with shepherding the opt-out formula through the House, and because removing the toxic abortion language won't cost any votes in the House since Stupak admitted that his power pay was a bluff and his boys would hve supported the bill anyway.
Fourth, the GOP embarrassed themselves all day yesterday, with their juvenile hotdogging, grandstanding, baby-waving. When women in the House tried to talk in the House to defend the right to choose, Republicans screeched interruptions, and when the chairman gaveled them down, they screeched over him too. So the GOP has grievously damaged its brand with female voters, although they sloppily missed their chance to anger Hispanics again with their plan (drafted but never executed) to seek an amendment attacking immigrants. But Hispanics know the Republicans were working on it.
The GOP has resorted to all of these absurd tactics because they know that the American people have rejected their actual argument: in poll after poll even the folks in redneck country want the public option. The Republicans have shot their wad and all they have nothing left but delaying tactics.
Firedoglake pointed out other ways in which the Republicans embarrassed themselves: Bachmann was screeching about wingnut mobs invading the Capitol and hunting down the Congress members until they could see the "whites of their eyes", which as we know is the last thing you do before you shoot guns; thus instructed they ran through the halls, deliberately interfering with Congress members doing their jobs and assaulting one of them -- in other words, an effort launched by a member of Congress and cheered on by her party leadership, to stop Congress from functioning. To use terror tactics to stop the federal government. Which looks stupid and dangerous to the left and the right alike.
FDL also pointed out that Bachmann and her flying monkeys in the House were urging the teabaggers to fight with the Democrats on the issues of reform -- because the House GOP members completely failed to do it themselves. Hey, Michelle, if that delusional loon dressed up like Betsy Ross waving a gun on the Capitol steps can advocate your position better than you can, then what does that say about your skills as a political leader? Why are you even in Congress?
And the intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican argument was parodied by Driftglass -- "I've always been dying to know by exactly how much the "too much Gummint" crowd thinks Gummint should be decreased? By by seven percent? By three feet? By four fathoms? 90 angstroms? 135 degrees? 44 pounds? 23 Hamiltons per square Addams? They seem to have a very definite number in mind, but are mysteriously unwilling to share it with the rest of the class, so I have to wonder, is this a secret number? Is there a conspiracy to keep the secret "Decreasing Gummint By This Amount Will Solve All Our Problems" number from us? And, if so, who are these conspirators? And why do the hate America so much that they're conspiring to keep the all-important "Decreasing Gummint By This Amount Will Solve All Our Problems" number from us?"
Remember also that the Republicans thought they had momentum on their side -- ignoring all of the Tuesday voting except for the two gubernatorial races, they persuaded themselves that the Tuesday result was a rejection of Obama, rather than a mixed-bag result, which at best reflected distaste with Deeds who criticized the public option and Corzine who had ties to Goldman Sachs. And they really believed that the latest teabaggers riot would intimidate Pelosi.
Pelosi is a mother of five children. Nothing scares her.
So much for imaginary momentum.