Senators continue to negotiate a health care reform bill and they are preparing to pull some late nights and early mornings at the Capitol. Their goal is to write a bill by the end of the year. The problem is the bill must be acceptable to all 60 Senate Democrats. Their votes are necessary for passage as Republicans are expected to vote against a bill written by Democrats.
For now, two Democratic Senators are withholding their support for the bill. Senator Ben Nelson, D-Neb., has repeated his view that he will not support the Senate's health care overhaul unless its restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion are strengthened. Also Senator John D. Rockefeller, D-W.V., says he absolutely will not support a health bill that repeals the Children's Health Insurance Program. The present bill funds CHIP through 2013.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says it looks increasingly possible that the Senate could be in session on Christmas Eve, and perhaps the week between Christmas and New Year's Day as well. Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., says he's been put on notice to expect late-night and early-morning votes over the next several days. Some believe a final vote could come late Christmas Eve.