The Senate defeated the abortion amendment. Senator Reid says they have reached "broad agreement" on a plan to abandon the public option, though. Instead, there will be a national plan that will be made up of private insurers who negotiate rates with the federal Office of Personnel Management, which would oversee the plan. A government run option would be triggered if this national plan was not cost-effective. And they're still talking about allowing people age 55 and over to buy into Medicare.
People are going to be upset with me, but I don't think this is the worst thing that could happen. There was never any way the Senate could pass a public option once Joe Lieberman said he would vote to filibuster with the Republicans. I don't know that I've ever been angrier at another human being than I am at him. But we've known this for weeks. I've never seen a way around it. I'm not happy; but I think I'm being realistic. Make no mistake -- I (and thousands of others) will never forget that this is Joe Lieberman's fault. But he doesn't seem to care. And of the non-public options that have been discussed, this seems relatively inoffensive.
However, I don't know if the Democrats have the votes to end a filibuster (vote for cloture) without the abortion amendment. Senator Nelson has said he'll vote against it without the strict abortion ban. Unless Senator Reid picked up a couple of Republicans to vote for cloture -- perhaps Senator Snowe, who likes the public option with a trigger, perhaps Senator Voinovich who is retiring and so he won't be pressured to stick with the party line like some of the others -- I don't know if there are 60 votes to close debate even on this watered down bill.
We'll keep an eye on things over the coming days. Once Senator Reid has the votes to cut off debate, they will do so. They want to go home for Christmas, and Senator Reid is not taking a break until this is done.
Check back for updates. Jennifer