Politico reports that the White House is telling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on health care, taking the Medicare expansion out of the bill. Reid has called a Senate Democratic caucus meeting for 5:30 p.m. to discuss options going forward.
Those include cutting a deal with Lieberman and winning over a GOP vote to replace him, most likely Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and other moderates are waiting for the CBO's cost estimate, due out early this week, and it's possible Democrats would need to seek two additional "yes" votes, which is unlikely to happen. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) would probably be the next most likely Republican Democrats would try to win over; she proposed a package of amendments with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) last week and appears to be working in good faith, with the idea that something will pass--but she has been considered a tougher sell than Snowe all along.
Ezra Klein, meanwhile, hears from Senate staffers that a deal would need to be struck by this Thursday or Friday in order to get a bill done by Christmas, given that cloture votes take 30 hours once they're called, plus another 30 without unanimous consent to proceed.
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