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Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) says she's in for a health care debate, where she'll try to make the bill more like the Finance Committee package.

"Although I do not agree with everything in this bill, I have concluded that it is more important that we begin this debate," she said. "I will vote in support of cloture to debate this bill."

Her decision comes as Republicans gear up to attack the vote--on the question of whether to debate the bill--as a vote for the health care bill itself.

Now all the hold outs are on the record. Nelson, Lincoln and Landrieu will all vote yes. At this point, Democrats just need to make it to 8 pm without any surprises, and then they can call it a day.

After announcing her intent to support a health care debate this afternoon, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) told reporters she thinks Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will soon have to choose between a triggered public option and no health care bill. She also says Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate one of its most fierce and vocal public option advocates--has been tasked as a point man on the issue.

"I believe it's going to be very clear at some point very soon that there are not 60 votes for the current provision in the bill, and that the leader and the leadership are going to have to make a decision and I trust that they will figure out how to do that," Landrieu told reporters.

Landrieu has been in negotiations with a number of centrist senators about a compromise that would eliminate the public option, except in states where insurance remains unaffordable. Interestingly, though, Schumer is playing a big role in that process.

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A White House source tells TPMDC they are "monitoring" today's Senate debate, but wouldn't tip off whether President Obama is making last minute phone calls to the holdout Democrats.

Volunteers with the DNC's Organizing for America are flooding Senate switchboards, and as we noted earlier, Sarah Palin is asking her fans to make calls and help "KILL THE BILL tonite."

The White House also is pushing back on critics who blast the health care bill as too long.

Communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog late last night: "Since some opponents of reform seem too obsessed with the length of the Senate health insurance reform bill to even bother looking at what's in it for American families, we thought we'd make it a little easier for them to find some key of provisions they're working so hard to kill."

He highlights eight elements of the bill the White House likes the most.

Read Obama's statement of administration policy on the Senate bill here.

Late Update: The president can't be watching too closely - Obama is golfing this afternoon.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) takes issue with a George Washington University study, which found that his anti-abortion amendment to House health care legislation would ultimately cause insurance companies to stop covering abortions altogether.

"The idea that insurers will stop providing abortion services because of the Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts amendment is nothing more than speculation," Stupak says, in a statement to TPMDC. "There is no language in this amendment that in any way prohibits private health insurance companies from offering these services."

To the contrary, the amendment clearly states, "nothing in this section shall restrict any nonfederal QHBP offering entity from offering separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section." The language in Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts is completely consistent with Hyde language, which in its 30 years of existence has not inhibited private health insurers from offering abortion services. There is no reason to believe a continuation of this policy would suddenly change that.

It should also be pointed out that the Federal Employee Health Benefit plan, with more than 8 million members, does not allow abortion coverage. Yet the companies that offer abortion free plans to federal employees also offer plans with abortion coverage to private individuals. Given insurance companies are already offering separate plans with and without abortion coverage it seems unlikely it will be a significant hardship to continue to do so on the Exchange.


The GWU study concluded that insurance companies would respond to the abortion restrictions in the Stupak amendment by whittling down abortion coverage over time until they stop offering it altogether--a business decision not strictly mandated by the legislation itself, but the impact would be the same. .

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have just endeared himself to liberal bloggers across the land. This morning, he took some heat from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who cited a Washington Post column to attack health care reform:

"In tomorrow's Washington Post, David Broder, their distinguished senior columnist, certainly not a political conservative, expresses his reservation as a citizen about the steps that we could be about to take," McConnell said.

Reid couldn't have been less impressed. "To focus on a man who has been retired for many years and writes a column once in a while is not where we should be."

No doubt the most hilarious moment of the day. But...sour grapes?

Late update: You want video? I got video!

A breathless WorldNetDaily report that the Washington Times would lay off "much of its editorial and production staff" Friday -- which was picked up by a D.C. Fox affiliate -- has apparently not borne out.

The WND story, which can still be read here, cited "reputable sources within the paper." Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., uncritically repeated the WND report during an interview with Times editorial page editor Richard Miniter, who has filed a discrimination complaint against the paper.

Miniter attorney Larry Klayman told TPM that a lawsuit that Miniter had planned to file Friday would be filed next week.

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TPMDC just obtained an extraordinary email from inside the Tea Party Patriots movement. As the Senate prepares to open debate on a health care reform bill tomorrow, tea partiers appear to be admitting defeat in their push to stop reform and are promising a "change in tactics" movement leaders say will appease the "outrage and frustration" among tea partiers over the movement's failure to stop a Democratic health care bill from moving forward on a path to final passage.

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November 19: President Obama's a big sports fan and athlete, that much we know. He's spoken about the importance of basketball in his life, and has made his passion for sports a key part of his political persona. Here, the President runs a route for New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees as a part of a public service announcement released today (see video here). And it got us thinking...

serve.gov




November 19: Obama shows off his taekwondo skills in South Korea, where he was awarded an honorary black belt.

Newscom/Yonhap




October 8: Obama pulls up a little short of the rim to take his shot. He invited several members of the Cabinet and members of Congress to play a pickup game on the White House basketball court.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




September 16: Touche! The President scores a hit against a fencer as a part of the White House's demonstration of Olympic sports during the ultimately unsuccessful Chicago 2016 Olympics campaign.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




September 10: The President gets a chance to lift Lord Stanley's Cup when he hosts the 2009 NHL champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




August 24: The frustrations of golf get to Obama during his vacation in Martha's Vineyard.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




August 19: 2008 NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson shows off his wheels to the President.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




August 14: A river runs through it -- Obama tries his hand at fly-fishing in the East Gallatin River in Montana.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




July 27: FIFA President Sepp Blatter presents Obama with jerseys for his daughters.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




July 15: Obama throws the ceremonial first pitch at the All-Star Game -- it was a strike, though some said it bounced.

Newscom/Rapport Syndication




July 13: While talking about health care reform with Nancy-Ann DeParle, Peter Orszag, Phil Schiliro and Larry Summers, Obama shadowboxes. No word on whether he imagined recalcitrant Republicans as his targets.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




June 24: Go long!

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




April 24: Perhaps the President and Vice President are practicing for a four-ball partners game?

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




March 15: Obama and the First Dog, Bo, head out for a run.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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