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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement tonight:

"This has been a long journey. We have confronted many hurdles, and tonight I believe we have overcome yet another one.

"I asked Senators Schumer and Pryor to work with some of the most moderate and most progressive members of our diverse caucus, and tonight they have come to a consensus.

"It is a consensus that includes a public option and will help ensure the American people win in two ways: one, insurance companies will face more competition, and two, the American people will have more choices.

"I know not all 10 Senators in the room agree on every single detail of this, nor will all 60 members of my caucus. But I know we all appreciate the hard work that these progressives and moderates have done to move this historic debate forward.

"I want to thank Senators Schumer, Pryor, Brown, Carper, Feingold, Harkin, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Rockefeller for working together for the greater good and never losing sight of our shared goal: making it possible for every American to afford to live a healthy life.

"As is long-standing practice, we do not disclose details of any proposal before the Congressional Budget Office has a chance to evaluate it. We will wait for that to happen, but in the meantime, tonight we are confident."

Ten Democratic Senators emerged tonight from a long series of meetings having reached a tentative agreement on a public option compromise. None would comment on the actual provisions in the deal, saying they first want to hear back from the Congressional Budget Office, which will begin scoring the new package tomorrow.

"We've made a lot of progress," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). Now, he says, Democrats will "take the next step and ask the CBO to score what we've been discussing...we don't expect them to respond to us within 24 hours. Apparently it will take a couple days."

Within the past week, the 10 liberal and conservative Democrats hashing out a compromise have discussed a number of potential alternatives to the opt-out public option in the current bill, including tighter insurance reforms, an extension of the competitive market that insures Federal employees, and, most notably, a measure that would allow certain people between the ages of 55 and 64 to pay into Medicare.

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Turnout in today's Democratic primary for the Massachusetts special election for Senate -- tantamount to election for Ted Kennedy's seat, in this deep-blue state -- is turning out to be astonishingly low.

The Boston Globe reports that as of 3 p.m. ET, only 35,000 people had voted in Boston, less than 10% of the city's registered voters.

The Boston Herald speculates that the lower turnout could possibly benefit Rep. Mike Capuano, who is widely seen as the underdog against state Attorney General Martha Coakley. For what it's worth, Capuano's home town of Somerville, where he served as mayor before his election to Congress in 1988, is having a relatively higher turnout -- at 1 p.m., it was a whopping 12.5 percent.


December 7, 2009: This summer's controversial elections and mass protests in Iran gave this year's Student Day a charged energy. Pro-government supporters, like those above at Tehran University, participated in the demonstrations. They were joined by hundreds of students who used the event to demonstrate against current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the largest rallies in months. Over 200 student protesters were arrested in a sign that the Iranian government has taken a stronger stance in response to the opposition.

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At Tehran University, protesters burn photos. The one on the left is of Maryam Rajavi, a key player in Iran's resistance movement.

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Pro-government demonstrators wave flags and hold photos of Iran's clerical leaders.

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A pro-reform protester demonstrates, wearing the opposition's adopted green. The Associated Press reported that the demonstrations "saw an increased fervor and boldness among demonstrators, who more openly broke the biggest taboo in Iran -- burning pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and chanting slogans against him."

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At the Tehran University campus, pro-reformers march in the demonstration. According to Reuters, witnesses at the event said some protesters chanted "death to the dictator."

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Iranian students and supporters of the opposition march with arms linked. One protester explained: "I take to streets to protest because I want change now, not tomorrow. I am fed up with the current situation."

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Supporters of the government clash with opposition demonstrators.

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A woman treats the wounds of an injured student after the Iranian police fired tear gas to break up the demonstration. One protester summed up his injury: "This is the price for freedom."

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After his abortion amendment did not win the day on the Senate floor, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) did not come out swinging. Though he insisted that the failure of his abortion amendment "makes it harder to be supportive" of Senate health care bill, he did not reiterate his pledge to filibuster the bill.

"We'll just have to see what develops," Nelson told reporters. "I have no plan B."

That allows him substantial wiggle room, if he ultimately decides not to defect from the health care bill, and indeed, after the vote Nelson returned to private negotiations with liberals and other conservative Democrats over the public option.

He's not a firm no vote just yet.

"Not at this point in time. I want to continue to work on the [public option compromise] to see if that can improve the bill from my perspective."

The Senate voted 54 to 45 this afternoon to table Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-NE) abortion amendment, effectively killing the measure.

The amendment would have prevented a public option from providing abortion coverage. It also would have prevented private plans from offering abortion coverage to women using government assistance to purchase a plan.

Nelson's amendment was extremely similar to Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-MI) measure in the House bill. Stupak's amendment passed.

Nelson has threatened to filibuster the health care reform bill if strong anti-abortion language, like Stupak's, isn't included. If he does, Democrats will need both Sens. Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe to break a filibuster. Neither Snowe nor Lieberman want a public option, and both are iffy on some of the compromises being floated in meetings this week.

In a blog titled "The Value of Daily Tracking," Gallup is hitting back at White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggesting today their presidential approval daily tracking poll could be drawn in crayon by a 6-year-old.

"I'm certain Gibbs didn't intend to impugn the value of presidential job approval polls in general. It appears he was reacting more to the fact that the president's approval numbers are not stable, but, in fact, in a period of some change," Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport wrote on the blog. "But this type of movement is the nature of the beast."

As we reported, Gibbs said: "If I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG, I'd visit my doctor."

Newport responded: "I think the doctor might ask him what's going on in his life that would cause his EKG to be fluctuating so much. There is, in fact, a lot going on at the moment -- the healthcare bill, the jobs summit, the Copenhagen Climate Conference, and Afghanistan."

He also suggests Obama's presidential campaign "paid a great deal of attention to their own tracking polls measuring how his candidacy was doing as the events of the campaign rocketed across the news each day."

Read Newport's post in full here.

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