Reid Confident He Has 60 Votes To Pass Health Care Reform

December 19, 2009 6:48 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seems confident that he has the 60 votes he’ll need to pass health care reform. Asked by a reporter at a press conference moments ago whether his caucus is united to end a filibuster of his bill, Reid joked, “seems like it!”

In order to secure the support of all 58 Democrats, and both independents who caucus with his party, Reid had to make significant concessions to centrists, including eliminating the public option, and tightening the language restricting federal funds from paying for abortion.

He also apparently had to guarantee that the federal government would cover the entire cost of expanding Medicaid in the state of Nebraska–home to Sen. Ben Nelson. Reid insisted today that this Medicaid agreement, contained in the manager’s amendment was a “small part” of winning Nelson’s support for the legislation, but it’s indicative of the sort of political trading that was necessary for Democratic leadership to win unanimous support for the legislation from the caucus.

And it seems to have worked. Reid will need his caucus to stay united for the next several days, and possibly into next month if a health care reform package is to become law. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) told reporters this afternoon that unless the timeline for passage is lengthened into January, she’ll likely support a filibuster of the bill.

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