Democrats Grow Nervous About Meeting Christmas Health Care Deadline

Roll Call Photos/Newscom

The Congressional Budget Office was supposed to weigh in on new changes to Senate health care legislation by early to mid-week, swatting aside one big procedural hurdle standing between Democrats and health care reform. But Tuesday passed quietly. Then Wednesday. Then Thursday. Now it’s Friday, and Democratic aides say they’re still not sure if they’ll hear back from CBO analysts by the end of the day.

And that’s making them very nervous.

As I reported earlier today, if Democrats want to pass health care reform by Christmas eve, they’ll have to adhere to a very strict timeline, which includes filing for cloture on health care tomorrow.

The late CBO report isn’t helping.If the cost-estimate comes back tomorrow, aides say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could call an impromptu caucus meeting, present his “manager’s amendment,” along with new budget figures, to his members, and hope against hope that he receives signals from all remaining hold outs–including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)–that they’ll vote to end a series of GOP health care filibusters.

If that doesn’t happen, it’s difficult to see how they’ll be able to pass a health care bill by Christmas.

Aides have suggested privately that when Reid releases his manager’s amendment to the media, it will be a sign that he has–or at least thinks he has–60 votes lined up to clear all of the remaining procedural hurdles. So that’s the event we’ll be awaiting tomorrow.