Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) late Tuesday laid the groundwork for the Senate's healthcare reform debate to start next Tuesday.
Reid filed a motion to introduce the bill on Monday, Nov. 16. Anticipating a Republican objection, the bill would be pushed onto the Senate calendar.
According to Chris Bowers, it looks like Reid has 60 votes to begin the debate and amendment process on healthcare reform and the public option in the Senate. And...
Given the 60-vote culture in the Senate, it will take 60 votes either to remove the public option from the bill, or to add the Stupak language to the bill. This makes either pretty unlikely (especially the addition of the Stupak language).
Of course anything could happen. But getting 60 votes for Stupak language or dropping the public option would require all of the Republicans and 20 Democrats. I don't see 20 Democrats voting for either -- or a trigger, for that matter.
Anyway, despite rumors last week, Reid appears to be anxious to move this thing forward.
If Reid had not filed a motion to introduce the bill this week, then the earliest floor debate would have started in the Senate would have been the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This ups the process by at least two weeks, and gives real hope that the bill will be passed into law by the end of the year.
If there are going to be major changes to the legislation (for better or worse), it won't happen until conference. Once we learn who's on that committee, the final battle to close some holes in the legislation will begin.