Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
As the president called Senate Democrats to the White House for a come-to-Obama meeting on health care, Majority Leader Harry Reid got some decidely mixed news about his uncommitted members, and one Republican thought to be in play.
After Sen. Joe Lieberman exploded into the Dems' headache-number-one over the weekend, he said today he feels the bill is going in the right direction. Not surprisingly, Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) thinks that's definitely the wrong direction after he pushed for a public option. He said Monday night his vote is no longer assured.
Also not assured, and seemingly not even close, is Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), the pro-life hold-out who said today he is not currently supporting the bill and the president "knows that."
But what about the Maine senators we hear so much about, the ones who could cross the aisle to get the Democrats to 60 in case they lose one or two of their own members? Sen. Susan Collins, the moderate Republican, said today the bill is "too deeply flawed" to get her vote.
Despite yesterday's progress, the math for Harry Reid to get to 60 looks as tough as ever. Here are the senators in their own words and what it means for Reid.
Sen. Joe Lieberman Lieberman (I-Conn.), speaking at a press conference on domestic terrorism: "I'm getting toward that position where I can say what I've wanted to say all along, that I'm ready to vote for health care reform...I think we're heading in the right direction..."
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.), at the same press conference: "The bill is getting better, but it's still too deeply flawed for me to support it....I've had extensive discussions with the president, with his chief of staff, with the OMB director, with the White House health policy adviser. Those have been helpful, and I appreciate the dialog that we're having. But they certainly have not moved me toward -- to be able to support the bill at this point."
Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), on the Senate floor Monday night: "I do have deep reservations, deep concerns, about what you have heard up to this point. Until I see more, I can only say again what I have said from the very first day of this debate so many months ago: I am committed to voting for a bill that achieves the goals of a public option, competition, cost savings, and accountability. I will not be able to vote for lesser legislation that ignores these fundamentals."
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), speaking to Politico this morning: "I'm not on the bill. I have spoken with the president and he knows they are not wrapped up today. I think everybody understands they are not wrapped up today and that impression will not be given."