Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is now confident that he has the sixty votes needed to proceed with cloture for H.R.3590. The Senate has met every day since November 30th in the hopes of getting the needed sixty votes to break a Republican filibuster.
After thirteen hours of closed door negotiations on Friday Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) is now on board. “Change is never easy,” Nelson told reporters. “I truly believe this legislation will stand the test of time. The lives of millions Americans will be improved.” The legislation is set to be passed in the Senate by Christmas.
The White House is pleased with the likely outcome and expressed support for the bill, but White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod was hesitant to declare this the complete success originally hoped for when asked by NBC’s David Gregory on Meet the Press if this was “mission accomplished.”
When confronted about the removal of the Public Option from the final bill Axelrod rebuffed criticism from the left and cited an op-ed written by Paul Krugman in Friday’s New York Times. In the op-ed Krugman expresses that progressives should pass the bill despite the absence of a Public Option.
Every Senator that caucuses with the Democrats is needed in order to achieve the magic number of sixty required to overcome a Republican filibuster. No Republican supports this legislation. Even Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has said she will not support the bill given the hurried manner in which it is being handled.
The final bill includes stricter regulations and restrictions for abortion funding and full Medicaid coverage for Ben Nelson’s Nebraska by the federal government. Nebraska is the only state to have been given this perk. All other states are covered until 2017. If the changes are not present in the final bill Nelson has said he will oppose it.
Both sides of the abortion issue seem to be dissatisfied with the compromise. The agreement has created segregation within the way abortions are funded and allows for states to determine whether private insurance companies can offer coverage for abortions within their states. David Axelrod pointed out that this compromise “Doesn’t change the status quo” when asked about this on Meet the Press.
The CBO estimates the bill will reduce the deficit by $132 billion* over the next decade and by $1.3 trillion over the next two decades. It will cost $871 billion over 10 years. This is an increase over the $848 billion estimated for the original bill that was brought before the Senate.
*This has been corrected from the original.