… and now the hardest part of all… fashioning a bill that the House, Senate and White House can all support.
The Senate vote was 60-39 following party lines. Now, key leaders in both houses must get together to come up with the compromise bill for the President’s signature. There are pretty significant differences between the two final versions on issues such as how to pay for the expanded coverage, whether there will be a public option or not and, of course, abortion coverage.
As I commented on recently, public opinion is now working against final passage and the Republicans in office, more united than ever, are focused on slowing and defeating any measure of reform. And although the President played a low key role during the heated Senate deliberations, expect him to step it up in the next phase. He realizes that his own direct involvement could be the difference maker at this point. "We hope to have a whole bunch of folks over here in the West Wing, and I'll be rolling up my sleeves and spending some time before the full Congress even gets back into session, because the American people need it now," the President remarked yesterday.
The original hope was to have something in the Oval Office for the President’s signature by year end; obviously that won’t happen. But, given the wrangling and recent shift in public opinion, it’s pretty remarkable that we’re even this far along by Christmas Eve. It appears likely that the President will hope to have this all wrapped up by the State of the Union address early next year.