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Could Health Care Slip Into 2010?

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Reports this morning from the Senate cast doubt on whether the chamber will be able to pass its version of comprehensive health care reform in the current calendar year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to send him scores of his draft health care proposals, a step the caucus feels is necessary before it can begin to consider any legislation. Reports are that the score could come out as early as the end of the week.

The problem facing Democratic leadership in both the Senate and House is an increasingly unfriendly calendar. Neither chamber will be in November 11-13 in honor of Veterans’ Day and Congress will recess the last week of November for Thanksgiving. December debates will have to be scheduled around the various holidays and religious observances.

Further complicating matters in the Senate are reports that Reid does not have the 60 votes necessary to end a filibuster on the legislation. When he does introduce a bill, he has pledged ample time for the Senate to review the bill before holding any votes. A Republican aide told CongressDaily AM that the rumor is Reid would put the bill out for review before Thanksgiving and begin preliminary debate, pausing for the Thanksgiving break, with the expectation of a vote before Christmas.

On the House side, the Democratic leadership is confident it is close to reaching an inter-caucus compromise on their bill’s abortion and citizenship language, which would lead to debate on the bill beginning Friday and an expected vote before Veterans Day.

Quick Hits

The rule on the health care bill will allow House Republicans to offer a substitute amendment – here is their outline… Senator Lieberman backs off his “no” vote comments from the weekend… Senate Environment and Public Works Committee could lack Republicans during its climate change debate.