It’s Saturday Night For Senate Test Vote On Health Reform
The New York Times: "The Senate is expected to vote Saturday on whether to take up the legislation. The majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, refused to say Thursday whether he had the 60 votes needed to clear that procedural hurdle." Reid and other Democratic leaders said that "the unveiling of the bill ... had given them political momentum going into the first test vote. ... But Congress appears highly unlikely to meet President Obama's goal of finishing work on the bill this year (Pear, 11/19).
Reid was working Thursday to cement votes to allow him to proceed with final debate, The Washington Post reports. "Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he supports much of the measure and will vote with Democrats on Saturday to begin debate. But Lieberman has said he would vote against final passage if the bill includes any version of a government insurance plan - forcing Reid to convert at least one Republican to advance the initiative to final negotiations with the House" (Montgomery and Murray, 11/20).
CongressDaily: "The vote to end a Republican filibuster on the motion to proceed, should it reach the 60-vote threshold, will double as the vote on the motion to proceed, allowing senators to head home for Thanksgiving recess following the 8 p.m. vote ... Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., had threatened to require the clerk to read the 2,000-page bill following the vote on the motion to proceed, but Reid will call up the bill by number only, which prevents a reading. 'I agreed to the wishes of my leadership,' Coburn said" (Edney and Friedman, 11/20).
NPR: "The question, though, is whether there are enough Democrats in Reid's 60-member caucus willing to cast the 60 votes needed to move the bill forward. Those still uncommitted include Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, Nebraska's Ben Nelson, and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln. Reid today was making no predictions." NPR noted some Republican criticism: "'This is the same turkey that you saw in August and it's not going to taste any better in November. It's not much different than what worried you in August. In fact, it's gotten a little bit worse,'" said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee (Welna, 11/19).
The Hill: Reid isn't making any predictions on how the procedural vote will turn out: "'We'll find out when the votes are taken,' he said when asked on Thursday about his chances of success" (Young, 11/19).
McClatchy Newspapers "Although Democrats are likely to get the 60 votes they need to move forward with the debate, the outcome is uncertain. Should the measure pass that initial test, lawmakers made it clear Thursday that they're ready for weeks of political warfare" (Lightman, 11/19).
Roll Call: More than 97 percent of all bills are subject to a cloture motion to begin debate have been approved "a finding (by the Congressional Research Service) that could undercut Democratic efforts to paint a key health care vote on Saturday as procedural" (Stanton, 11/19).
Politico: Reid "also declared that he would not use a procedural maneuver known as reconciliation to pass the bill - a shift from previous statements when he would say all options are on the table. 'I'm not using reconciliation,' he said flatly" (Budoff Brown, 11/20).
Finally, The Christian Science Monitor has a Q&A on how Reid can advance the bill to begin debate and which senators and issues might stand in the way (Grier, 11/19).