Democrats Continue Efforts To Win Over Moderates
Wavering moderates, including Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., control the key votes needed to bring the health overhaul bill to the Senate floor, so securing their agreement to go forward has become a priority for the Democratic leadership. Before releasing the bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "spent more than an hour yesterday giving three moderate Democrat fence-sitters a special closed-door briefing ... and administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, met separately with senators to sell it," the Boston Globe reports (Wangsness and Milligan, 11/19).
In addition, Reid's unveiling of his $848 billion health reform bill "quickly turned up the pressure on the last few wavering moderates to support the plan, which includes a sizable chunk of deficit cutting," Politico reports. The bill would lower deficit spending by nearly $130 billion over the next decade. After that revelation, moderates Landrieu and Nelson appeared more likely to at least allow the bill to be debated. If they do not, Democrats probably would not reach the 60 votes needed to move the bill forward (Budoff Brown, 11/18).
The Arkansas News: Lincoln "has not said publicly how she will vote on a measure to advance the measure to debate. Lincoln spokeswoman Leah Vest said the senator 'wants to read the bill first before making any decision' on how she will vote on a motion to proceed to debate" (Moritz, 11/18).
Reuters: Landrieu, meanwhile, "faces a tough choice: defy the wishes of her party on a legislative priority central to Obama's promise of change, or defy the wishes of voters in her home state of Louisiana who are hostile to the proposals" (Bigg, 11/18).
Politico: Landrieu said she would decide whether to vote to move the bill forward Thursday, after having a chance to read it. She spoke positively about opportunities to make improvements during floor debate (Frates, Sherman, O'Connor, 11/18).
Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star: "While Nelson did not commit his vote during a telephone conference call from Washington, his remarks clearly signaled the likelihood he may decide to vote for cloture in order to begin debate." He said a filibuster would probably make the bill worse in the end (Walton, 11/18).
Politico: "Lieberman said he won't block efforts to begin the debate, but he will filibuster a public option to end the debate" (Raju, 11/19).