Reid’s Fight To Get 60 Votes Dims Liberals’ Hopes Of Compromises In Conference Committee
Although the liberals and union leaders once hoped that a House-Senate conference committee could undo some of the compromises and move the health overhaul bill more to their liking, the "titanic struggle to lock in Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) as the 60th senator for the first key test vote early Monday morning has changed all that," Politico reports. "The need to hold Nelson and other moderates in line means major changes on the public option, abortion, taxes, Medicare and Medicaid are unlikely - and that the Senate's vision of health reform is likely to prevail over the House's in the final talks. ... House Democrats acknowledge that they will be limited in how far they can tweak the Senate compromise. But House leadership also knows that its rank and file need to force some changes, however small, before they will accept the final package - as a face-saving measure to be able to swallow late changes to the bill in the Senate, most notably the decision to eliminate a public option." Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean tempered his words from last week when he called on fellow Democrats to scrap the bill. "'I would certainly not vote for this bill if this were the final product,' Dean said. 'I would let this thing go to conference committee, and let's see if we can fix it some more'" (Budoff Brown and O'Connor, 12/20).
The Hill reports on how House members view the compromise on abortion that Nelson insisted before committing to the Senate bill. The critics include Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who led the fight in the House to add strict restraints on abortion. He called the Senate compromise "not acceptable." Pro-choice Democrats Reps. Diana DeGette. Colo., and Louise Slaughter, N.Y., called the Nelson agreement "offensive" (Bogardus, 12/20).