Reid greenlights senate version of health care reform

Rick Moran
It's still over 2,000 pages. And it differs markedly from the House bill in several key areas.

Nevertheless, after massaging some language that will supposedly ban abortion funding in the bill, Majority Leader Reid has introduced the bill - an $848 billion over 10 years monstrosity.

Greg Hitt and Janet Adamy of the Wall Street Journal have the story:

Mr. Reid's proposed legislation, 2,074 pages, is the Senate's answer to a bill that narrowly passed the House Nov. 7. The two bills have differences on taxes, abortion coverage and a public-insurance plan and would require considerable work to reconcile if Congress hopes to pass some form of health care overhaul -- the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's domestic agenda.

The Senate bill needs 60 votes to proceed to a floor debate, and Mr. Reid is expected to call a vote later this week, perhaps Saturday if not sooner. If the tally gets to 60 -- which was still uncertain Wednesday, though Senate Democrats showed increasing confidence -- that would open perhaps the most critical period of legislative action on American health care since Congress created Medicare in the 1960s. The debate would end with a vote on the bill by the full Senate. Nearly every Republican in Congress still opposes the overhaul effort, and there are still sharp disputes among Democrats about central provisions."This is yet another trillion-dollar experiment, but it is not what Americans bargained for," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.)

One swing Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, said he still has a range of concerns but suggested he might at least be willing to begin debate. "If you don't like the bill, then why would you block your own opportunity to amend it?" he said. Two other Democrats on the fence, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, remained noncommittal Wednesday evening.

The only vote that matters is the one scheduled (but not set in stone) for this Saturday. If the senate votes to proceed and the motion gets 60 votes, there would appear to be no way to stop its eventual passage. All that would be needed if the procedural motion succeeds would be a simple majority. And Reid appears confident he can round up 50 Democrats for that.

The two other senators are sitting on political dynamite. Blanche Lincoln, running for re-election in 2010 and already in trouble in Arkansas, may see voting to proceed the same as voting to pass. Landrieu is in a little better position as she won't have to face the voters again until 2014.

Wild card: Robert Byrd has missed a ton of votes this year due to poor health. But Reid will drag him out of his sick bed if he has to in order to get to the magic number of 60.

If Reid does not have the votes, he won't bring the motion to proceed to the floor. Right now, I'd say that it's a good bet he will get his 60 votes and that the vote will proceed as scheduled. Too much is at stake for Democrats to falter now that they are so close to the end.

It's still over 2,000 pages. And it differs markedly from the House bill in several key areas.

Nevertheless, after massaging some language that will supposedly ban abortion funding in the bill, Majority Leader Reid has introduced the bill - an $848 billion over 10 years monstrosity.

Greg Hitt and Janet Adamy of the Wall Street Journal have the story:

Mr. Reid's proposed legislation, 2,074 pages, is the Senate's answer to a bill that narrowly passed the House Nov. 7. The two bills have differences on taxes, abortion coverage and a public-insurance plan and would require considerable work to reconcile if Congress hopes to pass some form of health care overhaul -- the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's domestic agenda.

The Senate bill needs 60 votes to proceed to a floor debate, and Mr. Reid is expected to call a vote later this week, perhaps Saturday if not sooner. If the tally gets to 60 -- which was still uncertain Wednesday, though Senate Democrats showed increasing confidence -- that would open perhaps the most critical period of legislative action on American health care since Congress created Medicare in the 1960s. The debate would end with a vote on the bill by the full Senate. Nearly every Republican in Congress still opposes the overhaul effort, and there are still sharp disputes among Democrats about central provisions.

"This is yet another trillion-dollar experiment, but it is not what Americans bargained for," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.)

One swing Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, said he still has a range of concerns but suggested he might at least be willing to begin debate. "If you don't like the bill, then why would you block your own opportunity to amend it?" he said. Two other Democrats on the fence, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, remained noncommittal Wednesday evening.

The only vote that matters is the one scheduled (but not set in stone) for this Saturday. If the senate votes to proceed and the motion gets 60 votes, there would appear to be no way to stop its eventual passage. All that would be needed if the procedural motion succeeds would be a simple majority. And Reid appears confident he can round up 50 Democrats for that.

The two other senators are sitting on political dynamite. Blanche Lincoln, running for re-election in 2010 and already in trouble in Arkansas, may see voting to proceed the same as voting to pass. Landrieu is in a little better position as she won't have to face the voters again until 2014.

Wild card: Robert Byrd has missed a ton of votes this year due to poor health. But Reid will drag him out of his sick bed if he has to in order to get to the magic number of 60.

If Reid does not have the votes, he won't bring the motion to proceed to the floor. Right now, I'd say that it's a good bet he will get his 60 votes and that the vote will proceed as scheduled. Too much is at stake for Democrats to falter now that they are so close to the end.