Even As The Release Of The Senate Health Bill Nears, Reid Keeps Counting Votes
The Associated Press: "Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada met Wednesday morning at the Capitol with Vice President Joe Biden to go over the game plan on health care. Crucial to the White House and Reid is winning over a handful of reluctant moderate Democrats." The AP reports that Reid "planned to present the bill to Democratic senators at a closed-door meeting late Wednesday. ... His goal was to deliver a formal cost and coverage estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, and put the legislation on track toward a floor debate within days." He also alerted health reform allies that Senate Democrats planned to hold a noon rally for the bill Thursday on Capitol Hill (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/18).
The Washington Post: "The first parliamentary vote could come as soon a Friday, testing Democratic solidarity at the outset of the debate."
The Hill: Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Capitol Hill was designed "to help Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) win support for a healthcare vote." Biden was expected to meet with other Senators Wednesday "as Reid tries to pull his caucus together for procedural votes" to bring the health bill to the Senate floor. "Since Republicans are all expected to vote against a motion to begin debate ... Reid must win the support of all 60 senators who caucus with Democrats, including Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman" (Bolton, 11/18).
Politico: With Biden's assistance, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scrambled Wednesday to pull together 60 votes for his health reform bill, awaiting all-important cost estimates in hopes of getting the bill to the floor by the weekend." Biden spent three hours today in a room just off of the Senate floor to lobby senators. And, "at around 2:15 p.m., the three moderate Democratic holdouts - Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson - entered Reid's office for a briefing." A Reid spokesman said the Majority Leader was walking these members through "the particulars."
And, Politico reports, "Adding to the uncertainty Wednesday was the absence of Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who flew back to Montana to deal with a family emergency. With no margin for error, Reid needs Baucus present for the first vote. Durbin said he was hopeful Baucus would return for the vote (Budoff Brown and Raju, 11/18).
Meanwhile, The New York Times Prescriptions blog offers insights into how Sen. Mary Landrieu's position may be taking shape. Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, "has been cagey on how she will vote on a motion to bring up the big health care bill for debate in the Senate." But in a Wednesday morning Senate floor speech, "Ms. Landrieu, chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, suggested that government action was urgently needed and that she was willing to negotiate a bill - provided that controlling soaring health care costs for small businesses was a top goal" (Herszenhorn, 11/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.