Christmas is coming early to some of the Senators who say that the have objections to the the Senate healthcare bill.
The Los Angeles Times reported this morning that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has intensified negotiations with a handful of Democrats whose support is crucial to passing the legislation.
You see, Reid needs 60 votes to prevent the Republicans from using parliamentary tricks that would keep the bill from coming to the floor — and eventually from being brought to a final vote.
That means that Reid will need the votes of all 58 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with the Democrats, or some Republican defectors, in order to keep the bill alive.
So, according to Times, there is some old fashioned horse trading taking place to ensure that the votes line up when they are needed.
Let’s see what is on the wish lists of some of these key votes. First, the Times reports, that Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, says he is worried about the bill’s fiscal impact. But Reid has made him more amenable to it by promising to modify a proposed 10-year, $40-billion excise tax on manufacturers of medical devices, a major Indiana industry.
Next, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a former state insurance commissioner, is adamantly opposed to a provision that would impose new antitrust requirements on the health insurance industry, which is also one of his big campaign contributors. So, according to the Times, the Democratic leadership is exploring ways to address Nelson’s concerns.
Then there is Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) who says she is “very skeptical” of the public option, yet wants a “principled compromise” that would drive down insurance costs.
The Times noted that, for her, Democratic leaders may find another point of leverage far removed from the healthcare bill: Landrieu’s conservative state has been clamoring for more government aid for Hurricane Katrina damage.
So, if you are a Democratic Senator wanting to grease the skids of some favored project, now would be the time to let Harry Reid know that you have an objection to the healthcare bill. All this must be keeping Harry Reid very busy these days.