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Reid Files Health Bill Motion

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WASHINGTON BUREAU — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may be preparing to introduce the Senate’s main health bill Monday.

The Congressional Budget Office is still calculating the cost of the Senate bill, and Reid has delayed unveiling the bill until the CBO “score” is in.

But Reid now has filed a motion that would permit him to introduce the bill Monday. If Reid makes that deadline, the Senate could vote on motion to proceed with consideration of the bill Tuesday.

Senate Democrats want to limit the cost of their health bill to $900 billion over a 10-year period.

The CBO estimates that H.R. 3962, the health bill that the House passed Saturday, would cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

In related news, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., today said the House could stay in session nearly up until Christmas Eve, if necessary, to vote for final passage of a health bill and give President Obama a victory.

Reid is likely to get the 60 votes he needs to proceed with floor action Tuesday, but Republicans probably will force a vote on the motion to proceed, according to Ira Loss, an analyst at Washington Analysis, Washington.

Floor debate and amendments to the bill would follow.

A vote on “cloture” – a measure that would keep Republican opponents or other opponents of the bill from stalling passage with endless rounds of debate – would be unlikely to occur for several weeks, Loss says.

Reid probably will introduce a bill that includes a public health plan provision along with a provision letting states opt out of the public option, Loss says.

But that version of the bill is unlikely to garner the 60 votes needed for passage, and that means supporters of the bill probably will delete the public option provision to win additional support, Loss says.

The bill already contains language creating state-based cooperatives, Loss says.

Washington Analysis doubts Congress will complete work on a health bill this year. Finally action is unlikely to occur until sometime in the first quarter of 2010, Loss says.


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