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Senate leadership hoping for a health-care reform bill next week

M1X00133_9.JPGWith health-care reform safely through the House, all eyes are now on the Senate. And the Senate is ... waiting.

Today, Bill Clinton visited the Democratic Caucus lunch. The meeting was closed, but it's a pretty safe bet that the topic was health care, and the former president was there to fire up the troops and communicate the lessons of his own failed effort.

Meanwhile, Harry Reid is waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to deliver its verdict on the merged bill. If all goes well, he'll get those numbers on Friday, they'll be below the magic $900 billion mark, and the bill will roll out on Monday. From there, the hope is that the Senate will vote on a "motion to proceed" on Monday, Nov. 23, and the debate will begin in earnest on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Assume two to three weeks for debate, and then passage by Christmas.

Of course, that's if all goes well.

Photo credit: Harry Hamburg/AP.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 10, 2009; 2:03 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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but that's Senate passage by Christmas, not conference report and second passage in both houses, right? So are we still in a situation where we won't see final passage until January or Feb.? I thought that was what most Dems, White House chief among them, wanted to avoid.

Posted by: andrewlong | November 10, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

the only way Ezra's timetable is attainable is if they drop the public option (and also keep liberals and progressives on board) and somehow figure out how to pacify both pro-choice and pro life at the same time. Good luck with that one. I'm getting more and more fearful that no reform will happen.

Oh and don't forget keeping the Hispanic caucus happy while having strong language in there keeping illegals out of purchases from the exchange.

other than that its a slam dunk.

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 10, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

It is looking more and more likely to me that this type of reform will not happen. I don't see how the reconcile the caucus of both houses on abortion, illegal immigration, the public option, and most importantly financing of the bill. It looks like what can get one part of the caucus will drive away the other. Today I feel far less confident than before that this reform will pass this year or even next.

Maybe they need to take health care reform in smaller parts and it would really help passange if it was bipartisan.

Posted by: lancediverson | November 10, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Bipartisanship would be good. Now you just have to convince Republicans that they're better off helping to pass a bill than handing the administration a defeat. The way the politics are set up right now, that ain't gonna happen. And if this reform bill tanks, Republicans are going to see that as proof that obstruction works, making future compromise even less likely.

Posted by: TomServo | November 10, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I think you could get at least 20 Republicans for a very scaled down version of the bill and throw in the punitive damage cap lowering doctor's insurance costs that are passed on to the consumer of health care.

Also, I am pretty sure that there would have been 15-20 Republicans who would have voted for Social Security reform as the first priority for Obama instead of health care reform. Social Security reform need not include the privitization, but rather just hard choices including raising the retirement age and increasing taxes. Obama would have suffered politically to be sure, but making tough decisions is what we elect presidents to do.

Posted by: lancediverson | November 10, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

As someone who is firmly in Marcia Angell's camp, I strongly urge Dems to get Republican buy-in at the point. The plan is so weak, so flawed, so obviously pro-industry that Dems do not want it to be mistaken for party ideology. Put in tort reform. Drop what remains of the public option. Whatever it takes to get at least 20 Republican Senate votes.

Posted by: bmull | November 10, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

No change to this bill will get 20 Republican votes. Congressional Dems have been falling all over themselves throughout this whole process to get even one or two Republicans to vote for it. They've had Republicans in back door meetings helping to put together the bill.

The Republicans have decided that killing healthcare reform is better for them politically than passing a compromise, bipartisan bill. Like Ezra, I think the public option is good, but not essential to having a good bill. If I thought we'd get 20 Republicans voting for it, thus ensuring smooth passage by Christmas, I'd advocate dumping it. But if they drop the public option, very serious Republicans will find something else that just has to be changed or else they can't deliver those 20 votes. Chase those votes and you find that they were never real to begin with and you're now in very deep water.

Posted by: MosBen | November 10, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"Chase those votes and you find that they were never real to begin with and you're now in very deep water."

And that's pretty much where we are now. If there really aren't 20 Republican votes to be had under any circumstances, then Dems can scrap the bill and blame Republicans. (This would be my preferred outcome.) But the health industry wants the universal mandate so badly I expect you will see pressure brought to bear on the opposition to find some compromise.

Posted by: bmull | November 10, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

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