Yesterday they needed 216 to pass it, now they need 217. Like Ace says: Nomentum.

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal will delay his resignation from Congress by three weeks, citing intense pressure from House Republican leaders to remain and vote against President Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system…

News of Deal’s decision was inadvertently broken by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, who congratulated Deal on his decision.

On Monday, before 100 supporters at the Gainesville Civic Center, Deal said he would leave Congress, effective March 8, in order to devote all his time to his campaign for governor.

Obama could in theory push the vote back into April or May to wait Deal out and force him to resign before the bill comes to the floor, but after Gibbs set a deadline of March 18 for passage this morning, he’ll look like an even weaker chump than usual if he does that.

A quick Democratic head count: Shelley Berkley, who voted yes in November, is a likely no this time. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Frank Kratovil — who was named in that dopey AP piece a few days ago as a possible flip to yes — voted no last time and say they’re voting that way again. The only way to flip all three? The Senate has to pass Obama’s “fix” to Reid’s Senate bill before the House votes on anything. If they do it the other way, with the House passing Reid’s bill first, there’s a chance that reconciliation could collapse in the Senate, leaving the House stuck with the Reid bill they pretty much all hate (albeit for different reasons).

Geraghty’s been doing yeoman’s work trying to figure out precisely what has to happen for Pelosi to get to 217. According to his latest calculation, every last pro-life Democrat who’s threatening to vote no with Stupak this time would have to flip to yes; if even one of them votes no — which seems exceedingly likely — it’s all over. And that assumes that House progressives will fall in line and stick with their yes votes from November. By no means is that a sure thing; remember, Raul Grijalva says he’s “pretty certain” that several liberals are ready to walk away this time. In fact, Roll Call claims they were pestering The One at last night’s White House health-care huddle about possibly reviving, er, the public option. Good luck with that, champ. The long and short of it is, unless I’ve missed a story somewhere, not a single Democrat who voted no before has committed to flipping to yes this time. The momentum is entirely the other way.

One thing I don’t get: Why can’t the Senate pass Obama’s “fix” to Reid’s bill before the House votes on anything? It would solve all their problems with wavering House Democrats. The argument, as I understand it, is that the fix can only be “reconciled” with existing legislation, which means Obama would have to sign something into law first. But if they’re willing to go this far to pass this travesty, why not go a little further and ignore that detail? If the GOP takes them to court, the Dems can plead separation of powers to try to keep the Supremes from intervening. Why not do it? What else do they have to lose? Our leader told us yesterday that passing this is the right thing to do. That should be enough, no?

Exit quotation from lefty Sherrod Brown, vowing pushback if the GOP tries to obstruct reconciliation: “If they’re going to try to filibuster in the traditional sense or the more modern sense that they do, they’re going to have pain, too.”

Update: Are my eyes playing tricks on me or is that a thin crack in the dam starting to appear?…

Republicans are trying to turn up the heat on House Democrats who may be wavering on health-care legislation, including freshman Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.

Schrader’s office said Wednesday that the congressman has not yet made any commitments on whether he would vote for the Senate-passed version of health-care reform. “Kurt’s commited to moving forward on health care,” said spokesman James Atkin, but he wants to study the bill first before making a commitment.

Schrader made some noise about voting no in November too before ultimately voting yes, but if the dam starts to burst, expect him to bail early this time.