If they allow the certification to proceed, a vote in February could mean a couple of things. The Senate bill has been passed, and doesn’t need to be reconciled with the House. But that means the House must expedite it’s passage of the Senate bill before Brown is installed.
That will probably mean that unions don’t get their sweetheart exemption from the tax on Cadillac insurance plans; it could mean the way the health care is paid for is still in limbo; and, it probably means that abortion will be funded in some way by the federal government.
Another option exists for Democrats: the nuclear option. They could attempt to pass the bill via reconciliation, by ruling that only a simple majority (50 Senators) instead of a supermajority (60) are needed. This move is widely unpopular.
Many pundits view the defeat as a condemnation of Obama’s policy agenda, reflecting widespread public disapproval of his health care plan. It will significantly alter the Democrats political approach as they head into the main 2010 mid-term elections.