Crucial Health Care Vote Expected At 5 PM TONIGHT

Posted: Nov 18, 2009 2:17 PM
It's go time. Republican Senate aides expect Harry Reid to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed with Obamacare at 5pm tonight. This means that the writing-the-bill part of Obamacare will end, and the process will begin to call an official vote in the Senate.

Reid is invoking cloture because he'll get his secret CBO score back this afternoon -- you read that right. Secret CBO score. We don't get to know the dollar amount because Reid doesn't want us to. Not that it really matters -- you can bet your bottom dollar that no matter what the price tag, he's going to push forward with this legislation. That's because, among other things, the passage of the health care bill is essential to Democrats getting re-elected in 2010.

A vote in favor of cloture at 5pm tonight is as good as a vote in favor of the bill itself. Some Senators will try to hide behind the idea of "wanting debate" or "starting the process" but that's not even close to accurate. Once cloture is invoked, debate will indeed start. Not a single Senator will change their opinion. Then, the process will continue until the bill is called to a vote.

If Reid abides by the push to "read the bill," the thing will probably be called for a vote right during the Thanksgiving holiday, enabling him to ram through divisive legislation just as Americans are focusing on their families rather than federal politics.

Republican Senate aids are asking constituents to write letters to their Senators TODAY, asking them to stop the motion to proceed with cloture. But things are not looking up. As of today, Reid is "cautiously optimistic" that he has the requisite 60 votes to pass.

No one expects Reid to use the "nuclear option," or, reconciliation to pass the bill. But that begs the question: if they've taken the nuclear option off the table, doesn't that indicate some serious confidence that they can get it passed through traditional methods?