Monday, October 26, 2009

BREAKING! Reid to unveil Senate Health Care Bill at 3:15 ET today

UPDATE: Details are emerging on the Senate Health Care bill, and it appears that Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu may be the lone Democrat threatening to side with Republicans to filibuster the bill.

Harry Reid's office just put out a statement that he'll be holding a press conference on the merger of Senate health insurance reform proposals at 3:15ET/12:15PT. Various news outlets are reporting that Reid will be sending a bill with a public option and state opt-outs to the CBO for scoring today.

This after a roller-coaster weekend of he said/she said reports claiming Obama was pushing Reid towards the Olympia Snowe trigger and progressive groups pushing back with petitions and ads against it.

Leadership sources tell me that Reid, who spoke with virtually every member of his 60-member caucus this weekend, currently has between 56 and 57 votes for the opt-out, which is being pushed by Sen. Charles Schumer, according to Democratic aides.

A public option with a delayed "trigger" -- supported by the White House and Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe -- has between 58 and 59 backers. It could be floated as an alternative if the opt-out measure fails to obtain the 60 votes needed for cloture, sources said.

Reid worked most of the weekend, convening several meetings with his leadership -- and wrangling over the details with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Remember, we only need 51 votes to pass a public option. We need 60 votes to prevent Republicans from blocking the bill from even reaching the Senate floor for a vote.

So who are the holdouts? Well, it would seem Blanche Dubois.......oh sorry, Mary Landrieu, the Senator from Louisiana, may be one.

Now that Senator Harry Reid appears likely to announce today that the final Senate bill will include a public option with an opt-out — a bold gamble that assumes it’ll have the support of 60 Senators in the end — it’s time to figure out which moderate Dem Senators are holding out and refusing to indicate they’ll support it.

Here’s one: Senator Blanche Lincoln. Her spokesperson confirms to me that she is not committing to it.

The key is to ask moderate Dems whether they’re willing to vote Yes on the initial, procedural vote, which requires 60 to bring the legislation to the floor. I asked Lincoln spokesperson Katie Laning Niebaum if Lincoln had indicated to Reid whether she’d vote Yes on cloture.

“Senator Lincoln has not committed her vote to anyone,” Niebaum emailed, adding that “she will have to see the legislative language and cost first and will evaluate it based on its impact on Arkansans.”

Reid has been working the phones for days lining up Senate support, and Senate brinkmanship being what it is, it’s possible that Senators maintaining a noncommital public posture have privately signaled that they’ll be there in the end.

Many in D.C. appear convinced that Reid is a handful of votes away from getting 60. If true, Reid’s apparent decision to go public with his plan could ratchet up the pressure on the holdouts, lest they be cast as the final obstacles to allowing the majority party stage a vote on legislation containing a provision (the public option) supported by the majority of Americans.

We’ll be tracking this today.

Fasten your seat belts kids, it's going to be a bumpy week.

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