November 13th, 2009
05:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Moderate Dems will determine if health care bill gets to Senate

(CNN) - The House squeaked out its version of health care reform and now President Obama is putting pressure on the Senate to do the same so he can sign a bill before the end of the year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he hopes to start debate next week on whether to send his bill to the floor. The Congressional Budget Office is appraising components of Reid's legislation.

But a handful of moderate Democrats might determine whether Reid's bill is debated.

Republicans are basically united in opposition to Reid's plan. With 60 votes needed to start debate on the legislation, Reid needs all 58 of the Democrats in the Senate and the two independents who caucus with them to vote his way.

Time is ticking away on reaching Obama's goal. Democrats are already doubtful that they'll be able to reach it.

The Senate will have a week to get its bill to the floor before it begins its traditional break for Thanksgiving, although some tell CNN that they could stay in the capital the early part of the week before breaking for the holiday.

That leaves the early part of December before they break again for the holidays at the end of the month.

That leaves little time to reconcile differences within the Senate before resolving differences between whatever emerges from the Senate and the House bill.

To secure the votes of anti-abortion Democrats, House Democratic leaders passed a health care bill that prohibits abortion coverage in a
government-sponsored plan and in private plans that accept anyone using government subsidies to buy insurance coverage.

In the Senate, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, said he would vote against any bill without those restrictions. But abortion rights Democrats, including many of the 17 Senate women, may object.

For now, Nelson said he hasn't decided whether he will give his party his vote, since he hasn't seen the actual bill.

In fact, no one has seen the Senate bill.

Reid won't release the legislation until he knows the cost of the bill. He has been waiting nearly three weeks for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to return its score, or cost. Reid's aides said they expect the CBO's score any day.

Democratic strategist and CNN contributor James Carville said while he thinks the Senate can move health care legislation forward, it needs an assist from President Obama.

"You know, these votes come right down to the end, and there's a lot of negotiations going, there's a lot of things that happen," he said on CNN's "The Situation Room. "I think that they can get to 57 or so. I think the president is going to have to come to the Hill again. ... He's going to have to do a lot, a lot, a lot of arm wrestling, and he's going to have to get down in the trenches here. This is going to be a tough deal."

Obama on November 7 met behind closed doors with House Democrats to shore up support for their health care bill, which passed on a 220-215 vote. One Republican, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana, supported the bill. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against it.

But Obama left Thursday for a weeklong trip to Asia, so any in-person pushes from him will have to wait.

Asked when Reid hopes the legislation will get to the president, Rodell Mollineau, one of Reid's top communication staffers, said, "our goals remain unchanged."

"We want to get health insurance reform done this year, and we have unprecedented momentum to achieve that."

- CNN's Dana Bash, Kristi Keck and John Helton contributed to this report

Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Death Assurance Companies

    Moderate Dems will be the first people in the unemployment line,oh thats right ,they already have a job with the Death Asssurance Companies.

    November 13, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. Proud Member..Party of No

    If there's a God in heaven this sorry excuse for healthcare reform will be thrown on the ash-heap of history.

    Question: If healthcare reform is so urgently needed and according to democrats hundreds(or thousands or billions) of people are dying in the streets everyday because they don't have healthcare then why does it not kick in until 2013?

    Answer: Because all of the democrat's numbers are a farce and because this is going to be such a disaster that Obama wants to run for re-election before the American people get sucker-punched by "national healthcare".

    November 13, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  3. Allen, Texas

    These Democrats are not moderate. Some of them are cowards and tools of the Right. That' s why Demcrats will never be able to hold power for any length of time. Take for example Joe Liberman, he caucuses with the Democrats, yet makes statements that he will vote with Republicans to filibuster the healthcare bill. I think, what we Democrats need to do is start the purge.

    November 13, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  4. JOHN

    If he can't get 60 votes 51 will do.

    November 13, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Fake Sniffit = Indiana's like blog t-ball...snag someone's moniker who annoys you, put nonsense words in their mouth, then post later attacking it under a different name

    November 13, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  6. normajean

    'Repubs are united in opposition' to the bill now being assessed. Tell us something we don"t know. When were the Repubs united about anything except themselves.?These people don't care whether families with children have health care ,they don;t care if people are dying for lack of it. They have theirs and that's all that matters.Maybe a good plan for politicians in the future would be like some jobs in the private sector where you don't automatically have insurance.If they weren't getting so many benefits, maybe they'd be more willing to work for the little guy.{I doubt it}.

    November 13, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  7. SocialismBad

    Why would a "moderate" sign on to a bill drafted by the hard core leftists in the Senate? How will it EVER get reconciled with the hard core left bill that came out of the House? There are so many ways this train wreck of an idea could be deadlocked its ridiculous. I doubt there is going to be any way to make everybody happy. If people start selling out their principles for bridges to nowhere then the people of this country will get the screws put to them with this government takeover of healthcare.

    November 13, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. I got your member swingin

    Proud member just wishes she had health care.

    November 13, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  9. MVDCT

    Government-run health care = a liberal's wet dream and a national nightmare for the rest of us...

    November 13, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  10. kd

    that's just great. The moderates who represent the tiniest fraction of the country's people will decide. I sense disaster.

    November 13, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  11. Nini

    If you feel any love for this country stop this bill.

    November 13, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  12. kd

    thanks Canadian Dave. Great post.

    November 13, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  13. Jim

    These "Moderate Dems" don't have to support the bill, they just have to let the bill get debated and voted on. I don't see why the media calls them "Moderate" when they are threatening to filibuster reform legislation that most of us want.

    November 13, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  14. Old White Virginia Female

    Disgusted Democrat, I'm with you. I do not regret a single penny I contributed to the Obama campaign, but it will be a cold day where the sun doesn't shine before I will contribute a penny to the Democratic Party in Virginia If they can't find anyone who can beat that anti-feminist who just won. If Harry Reid does not have the capability of garnering 60 votes in the Senate, can he get 50 and do a continuing resolution? If not, he needs to resign and as Pelosi to see if she can't take a temporary leave of absence from the House and show the man how to get the job done! And not next year. N O W!

    November 13, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  15. William Courtland

    Roger Sherman forged the Great Compromise... makes the Senate responsible for representing the many States
    Article X of the ratified bill of rights gave States the rights and protection to only be bound by the Constitution.

    So what Amendment to the Constitution or what current article supports the Health care bill or many other bills the House and Senate have passed over the years?

    Parties: corrupt power; corrupt the Constitution, corrupt the separation between the executive branches, corrupt the meaning of the Constitution, and make oaths of representative office meaningless when swearing to the President.

    November 13, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  16. ib

    This thing should be DOA. A stong public option is the worse thing about it. We cannot afford to keep spending like this. Inflation is coming like a bomb; be ready then the richer will get richer since they have money saved up and the poorer will be able to buy less due to increased prices. WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT IS TO LATE.

    November 13, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  17. howie

    Passing this bill is a sure way to put the GOP in power next year. The democrats simply do not get it. Public option is death for the democrats. I worked for the government for 33 years and I can tell you the public option will not work.

    November 13, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  18. S M R

    This is very simple: Vote yes and we will let you keep your day job, vote no and we will make sure you are finished. Vote yes for the American People or vote No for Corporate America. This is a NO BRAINER!!!

    November 13, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    My family is NOT CATHOLIC and that church trying to turn this into dictating to women is a republican ploy.

    Vote the radical religious zealots out – separation of church and state needs to be upheld now or it will force us ALL to become catholic republicans.


    November 13, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    Every poll I've seen lately says 54% of the voters do not want this boondoggle. We need reform, but not with the government as a competitor to legitimate legal business. Folks, what is being attempted here isn't anything to do with healthcare, it's about total control over 17% of the nations economy.

    November 13, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. Senior Lilarose in Oregon

    I can assure you that if the Dems, all of them, refuse to pass a decent health care bill, they will be fighting for their political lives next time around.

    Women are going to get these guys' butts out of office as fast as we can.

    You will see women voting in record numbers against you.

    My targets are Sen Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both senators from Oregon.

    I will personally walk every precinct on the south Oregon coast to support their opponents.

    November 13, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  22. Andrea Texas

    How confusing it is to comprehend that human beings are denied so much because of lack of income and/or being unemployed. The wealthy are pampered so much, and given so much because they have money. We give and give to help other countries, but turn our heads the other way and snub our own at home. How can we possibly feel good about this when we have folks in government having temper tantrums and hammering millions of excuses not to help our own at home? We simply look like 1st Class jack asses to other countries. Republicans, quit your constant whining and complaining and help the people of this country! Your scare tactics smell rancid.

    The gentleman from Canada, thank you for your comment, we needed to hear another side.

    November 13, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. X Republican

    I work in the Healthcare Industry. When hospitals and Doctors do not get paid, they pass the dollars in bad debt (risk) onto the payors. The payors then increase our insuance rates to make up the difference. If everyone paid, the cost would be shared. What you do not realize is that we are already paying for everyone, just not in an effective and efficient way. Read the bill. It is extremely important that we pass healthcare reform now.

    November 13, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  24. kr

    I do not know in Canada who your country had in opposition when a bill for health was introduced. This country has in our great house in Washington a bunch of republicans who never in their 8 years of control they never considered health care. These Senators are all about opposition to this President and this country; they would rather have a short vocabulary NO than to aid their fellow citizens and I am beginning to think that they do not care who continues to die without insurance. If you pick up a book, turn on the TV, God forbid the radio all you hear is hate, rhetoric, and opposition.

    November 13, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  25. Jennifer W

    I'm so sick of this debate. Anyone who thinks that the government is the panacea needs mental care not medical care. The politicians arent listening to their constituents because if they were this would have been shot down in the house. I say put it up for the people to vote on. I'm tired of some people looking to the government to take care of all their needs rather than making the effort to go out and take care of yourselves. I know it's not easy working 2 jobs to try and afford healthcare, been there done that but I sure the hell dont believe that a bigger government in our business is the way to go. All of you able bodied Americans out there looking for a free handout get up off your asses and do for yourselves so we can help the people who really need it.

    November 13, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
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