Saturday night, Senate Ag Committee chairman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., joined Mary Landrieu, D-La., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Joe Liberman, I-Conn., to vote for Cloture on the Senate's Health Care Bill. The motion passed 60 to 39. The bill is now set for Senate debate, which could last several weeks. The four moderate Democrats agreed to open debate despite expressing reservations on the measure, but say they will press Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for further changes to the bill before committing to its final passage. Each of them has warned that they might not support the final bill.
"I don't want a big-government, Washington-run operation that would undermine the private insurance that 200 million Americans now have," Nelson said.
The Democratic caucus remains bitterly divided over a government-run insurance option. The $848 billion Senate version represents the work of two committees and hundreds of hours of hearings and deliberations. Democrats admit their victory represents just the end of the beginning.