In the hours and minutes before Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, House Democratic leadership sounded resilient, even optimistic notes about the possibility of passing health care reform anyhow. But that puts them at odds with their rank and file members, particularly progressives, who, based on press reports and interviews conducted as returns were coming in, but before the race was called, now have a hard time seeing an endgame.
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A number of progressives say that they still can not vote to pass the Senate bill in the House, even though that would wrap up the reform project once and for all. But with at least one Democratic member of the Senate pre-emptively saying there should be no more Senate votes on health care before Brown is seated, that increasingly appears to be their only avenue. The question is, is that road blocked?
"If it comes down to that Senate bill or nothing, I think we're going to end up with nothing, because I don't hear a lot of support on our side for that bill," said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA). "I've lost my faith in anything happening quickly that requires Senate action.
"If she loses, it's over," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said this evening in New York.
Two high-profile progressives--Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)--said the only way they could sign on to the Senate bill is if it was accompanied immediately, or even preceded by, a separate bill, making a number of major preemptive changes to what they regard as an inferior package.