Just so Everyone is Clear on the Cloture Vote on the Motion to Proceed


“When the Senate begins floor debate on a health-care reform package this week, the outcome is almost certain to rest on decisions made by a handful of moderate Democrats.

None of those Democrats is feeling the heat as intensely as Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), who has become emblematic of the improbable distance that health-care reform has traveled, and how far it still must go before becoming law.

Her vote and that of two other Democrats expressing serious reservations about the legislation — Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (La.) — will determine whether it will garner the 60 needed to break an all-but-certain Republican filibuster [of the motion to proceed and of the bill.]

There are 60 members of the Democratic caucus but one, independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), has threatened to join a GOP filibuster if the final bill contains a government insurance plan, or “public option.” With only a single Republican, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, even considering backing the final product on the floor, the trio of Democratic centrists could make or break the reform effort.

And of those three, only Lincoln must face voters next year.”

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