Dec 15, 2009
Federal Healthcare Update
While Senate Democrats wait for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score the latest health care proposal, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-MD) continues to try to hammer out enough compromises to get 60 votes needed for passage of the bill. On Sunday, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Sen. Reid that he could not sign on to any plan that included a public option or that would expand Medicare. Sen. Lieberman's stance makes it unlikely that the plan will pass in its current form without the support of a Republican Senator. The most likely candidate, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), has not yet expressed any support for the plan. As of Monday evening, some Senate Democrats discussed dropping the plan to expand Medicare coverage in order to try to obtain Senator Lieberman's support for the overall bill. Senator Reid is also trying to craft a compromise to win the support of Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), who has said that he can not support the bill without the inclusion of language similar to a House provision to limit federal funding of abortions. After the defeat of Sen. Nelson’s amendment last week, Sen. Reid continues to try to find language that appeals to Sen. Nelson without alienating supporters of abortion rights.
The Democratic caucus met Monday afternoon to review developments in the health care debate, after which Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) said that he thought the Caucus was nearing a compromise agreement. Today, the Senate will vote on four amendments and motions offered on the health care legislation. In the afternoon, the entire Senate Democratic Caucus will go to the White House to meet with President Obama. Actions this week will be critical for Democrats to move forward if they hope to vote on a bill before December 23rd, when the Senate is scheduled to break for recess.