BREAKING @ 3 pm ET: Senate Democrats have secured the 60 votes needed to move the bill forward to floor debate. Details at Politico.
Here is a live streaming video feed of the Senate health care reform debate. The actual vote on whether to let the bill come to the Senate floor for debate and amendments is expected between 8 and 9 pm EST. This live video will remain at the TOP of TMV until after the coverage completely ends. Underneath the video you’ll periodically see some links to news stories and blogs of various opinions on the debte. So keep checking back. And here is the debate at this moment:
NEWS STORIES AND BLOG POSTS:
—THE LIBERAL VIEWPOINT: Firedoglake is doing “semilive” blogging. Here are a few recent entries (go to the link to read current ones):
12:55 – Landrieu thinks something are wrong with the bill. First she thinks the tax credits for small businesses are too small and need to be expand. She wants more tax equity for those who are self-insured. She is rightly worried about the possibility of premiums going up between now and 2014. She is against the current public option. She wants a trigger, like the one promoted by Snowe.
12:50 – Landrieu begins by praising Wyden and his efforts to create the Wyden-Bennett plan that she co-sponsored. She says she will vote to let the debate move forward, but her vote is not a vote for the underlining bill. It is only a “vote to move forward.” She said it is clear that doing nothing is no longer an option. Landrieu plans to “stay focused like a laser” on bringing down cost for small businesses. Landrieu is pro excise tax on employer provided health insurance.
12:35 – Cantwell makes a strong case for her basic health plan and says she hopes to work to expand it. It is not a public option but it is basically how the health exchange should have been designed to begin with. The state creates the design of a good health insurance plan (co-pays, benefits, deductibles, etc). Insurance companies bid to offer this insurance plan to all the people in the basic health plan program. The state approves several of the lowest bids and individuals can choose from any of these approved insurance providers. Read more about the “basic health plans” here.
–-THE CONSERVATIVE VIEWPOINT: Be sure to check in with Ed Morrissey who has “an open thread” (which reminds me I need to pick up my torn pants at the tailor’s) on the debate. Here is a small taste of what is up there as this is written:
Update (AP): The big question mark, obviously, is Blanche Lincoln, but it’ll be worth watching Nelson’s, Lieberman’s, Bayh’s, and Landrieu’s floor speeches too to see what demands they’re willing to issue publicly for their support going forward. As for tonight’s vote, it’s sort of a free kick for conservatives. Granted, 97 percent of Senate bills that pass this hurdle end up being enacted (so keep calling!), but most bills aren’t remotely as politically fraught as this one. Everyone expects Lincoln to cave and give Reid the 60 he needs — read Jay Cost’s excellent easy peasy three-point analysis for why it’s easy for Blue Dogs to say yes this time — but if she’s sweating now, she’ll be melting down before the final winner-take-all cloture vote a few weeks from now. Notes Cost, “The fact that these Democratic moderates are actually spending time ‘pondering’ whether to vote against starting debate is a sign that they are very skittish about this bill.”
Long story short, tonight is low risk and potentially huge reward. If Lincoln bugs out and the vote fails, it’ll be a nuclear humiliation for the Democrats and will have a lot of people suddenly believing that ObamaCare is un-passable.
Update (AP): Stressing that her yes vote today in no way guarantees a yes on cloture next time, Landrieu says she’s ready to proceed. All eyes on Lincoln now. The Louisiana purchase worked.
–New York Times: A Holdout Will Support Democrats’ Health Bill
–The Huffington Post plans to offer updates by Twitter. Check HERE to see when and if they are posted.
–Crooks and Liars has an open thread.
—The AP reports that now that Mary Landrieu is in and all 40 Republicans will vote against allowing the bill to go to debate and amendments, the sole holdout is…Nebraska’s Blanche Lincoln.
Needless to say, it would have been very, very bad news for the Democrats if the motion to proceed to debate on their health care plan had failed tonight. But I’m not sure how newsworthy this really is. The potential hold-outs, like Lincoln and Ben Nelson, are going to have much greater leverage later on, when the bill nears its second major procedural hurdle: the cloture motion to proceed to the final vote.
And there’s some bad news for Democrats too: Lincoln has joined Senators Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman in making a fairly explicit threat to filibuster a bill that contains a public option. Mary Landrieu, on the other hand, sounds a little bit more open to compromise. But this impromptu Gang of 3 — Lincoln, Nelson, Lieberman — could be a tough one for progressives to penetrate.
Harry Reid obviously paid off the last two remaining Senators, as AP calls them, centrist Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Make no mistake about it America, that means you Arkansas and Louisiana, these two are not centrists. No centrist would ever have allowed debate to go forward on this 2074 page piece of trash bill. We all now that Landrieu was paid off with the $100 million provision on page 432 of Reid’s bill. Remember when Obama said he was going to change the way Washington, DC does things and usher in a new era of hope and change to the political process Inside the Beltway? Guess that can go down as one more lie as the quit pro quo payoff to Mary Landrieu for her vote can attest to that.
Landrieu and Lincoln, please do not lie to your constituents or the American people. Your cloture vote all but ensured passage of this healthcare bill that will subjugate Americans to a government controlled health care system.
Of course, Lieberman could pull a Lieberman, and change his mind on this one just for the hell of it (and because he hasn’t been in the headlines very often lately), but for now there’s no drama left in today’s vote.
Now the real fight for a real public option. In agreeing today to continue debate on this bill, Lincoln vowed essentially to join a Republican filibuster.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.