On The Health Bill, Senate Democratic Leaders Finally Hit Number 60
The Washington Post: "Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) declared Saturday she will support a key procedural step to advance President Obama's health-care legislation." During a Senate floor speech earlier this afternoon, Landrieu said she would support the motion to begin debate on the health bill, "ending days of silence on the matter" (Kane, 11/21).
Politico: Shortly after, "Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) said she'd deliver the deciding vote to push forward with a sweeping health reform plan in the Senate Saturday, ending days of speculation over whether President Barack Obama's signature priority would proceed to the floor or suffer a debilitating blow" (Budoff Brown and Sherman, 11/21).
The Wall Street Journal: During her floor speech, Landrieu explained her decision. "I've decided that there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward, but much more work needs to be done," The Journal reports. "Her comments came a day after Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) also said he would vote to move forward. Saturday's vote will be the first test in the full Senate for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who unveiled his bill Wednesday night" (Hitt and Adamy, 11/21).
The Hill: When Lincoln announced Saturday afternoon that she will vote with her party this evening, she also made clear that she was at this time only expressing support on the procedural vote. "'Although I don't agree with everything in this bill, I have concluded that I believe that it is more important that we begin this debate to improve our nation's healthcare system for all Americans rather than just simply drop the issue and walk away. That is not what people sent us here to do,' Lincoln said on the Senate floor. 'I'm not afraid of that debate.'"
The Hill added: "Lincoln's vote Saturday evening will allow the debate to continue but it does not put to rest the vexing political questions Reid still faces if he hopes to shepherd the legislation to Obama's desk, however. 'The vote tonight will mark the beginning of consideration of this bill by the full U.S. Senate, not the end,' Lincoln said" (Young, 11/21).
The New York Times: Both Landrieu and Lincoln "cautioned that their support on what was expected to be a party-line vote on Saturday evening did not guarantee that they would ultimately vote for the bill itself. And their comments signaled that more horse-trading lies ahead when the vigorous debate and amendment attempts begin after Thanksgiving. Big changes might be required if the bill is to be approved (Herszenhorn and Pear ,11/21).
Bloomberg: "...Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is on the verge of victory in the first big test of whether he can keep his Democratic colleagues united behind health-care legislation. Senators plan to take a vote at 8 p.m. Washington time that would clear the way for debate on the most sweeping changes to the U.S. health system since the 1965 creation of the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled. ... With every Senate Republican opposing the legislation, Reid can't afford a single defection from his 60-member caucus to enable the chamber to take up the bill when Congress returns from a weeklong Thanksgiving recess (Litvan and Jensen, 11/21).
Los Angeles Times: "With the crucial support of a trio of centrists, Democrats seemed assured today of winning a procedural vote to allow debate on a sweeping overhaul of healthcare after Thanksgiving. ... But the healthcare bill has opened splits within the caucus, though Majority Leader Harry Reid worked hard, and is expected to be able, to hold his troops together at least through tonight" (Levey and Muskal, 11/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.