Wheeling In The Cots: A Winter Snow Emergency–And An Absentee Lieberman–Is Complicating Democrats’ Health Care Push

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As if Democrats didn’t have enough to worry about. Overnight and into tomorrow, Washington, D.C. is preparing for a major snow storm, complete with thunder and high winds. A winter snowpocalypse.

On any other weekend, that would be no biggy for Senate Democrats, but tomorrow, they need all hands on deck if they hope to keep on track to pass their health care bill by Christmas. And remember, they can’t afford a single slip-up.

So here’s another wrinkle: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has skipped town.

Already, they’ve wheeled in the cots for members and staff who choose to slumber party the night away in the Capitol, or Senate offices. But tomorrow, bright and early, all of them could need to be on hand for procedural reasons. For instance, Democrats expect to have to waive a budget point of order they expect Republicans to raise against the defense appropriations bill. That requires 60 votes.Potentially complicating matters, though is that Lieberman, who’s caused Democratic leadership no shortage of political heartburn on health care, isn’t even in town!

“After being assured by Democratic and Republican leaders that his vote was not needed to pass the Defense Appropriations bill, Senator Lieberman went to Connecticut to spend the Sabbath and the last night of Hanukkah with his wife, Hadassah, and their children and grandchildren,” reads a statement to TPMDC from Lieberman’s spokesman Marshall Wittmann.

That means Democrats will be relying on at least one Republican to help them get the defense bill over a procedural bump in order to push them back on to health care. They’re crossing their fingers.

But assuming they can get one vote, what happens if the snow keeps other members away? It could be a big problem. Leadership seemed confident earlier today that everybody would be present and accounted for tomorrow, and a bit surprised to learn that Lieberman had flown the coop. With all these added complications, don’t be surprised to hear a new Republican talking point: Even Mother Nature hates health care reform.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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