Do Democrats Actually Have 60 Votes For Health Care?


After two days of drama following Joe Lieberman's declaration that he would refuse to vote for any health care legislation featuring a Medicare buy-in, it seems as if there's now a widespread understanding that, with the buy-in gone, health care is more or less back on track — to the point that The New York Times is even wondering: "Did Senator Joseph I. Lieberman actually save the Democrats' big health care bill?"

Maybe. But I'm not sure the bill is actually saved, because I don't see a solid 60 votes. For one thing, there's no indication that the abortion language has been revised in such a way as to satisfy Sen. Ben Nelson. More to the point, it's not clear that Lieberman is actually on board. Like so much of what Lieberman has put out over the course of the past few weeks, the statement he released is broadly positive about moving toward passage but doesn't confirm that he's a yes. And he's also cautioning that legislators should wait to see actual language — which they don't currently have — before threatening filibusters (ignoring, of course, that that's exactly what he just did). Meanwhile, Sen. Dick Durbin is telling people that Democrats will have 60 votes by sometime next week

That's presumably meant to project confidence. But what it means is that they don't actually have 60 votes yet, and likely won't for several days at minimum. Given the length of time it takes for the Senate to vote on a bill — cloture takes several days — this may mean that Senate Democrats have blown their hoped-for Christmas deadline.