Policy-ish

Democrats Hold Together On Overhaul But Tensions Remain

So the Senate Democratic caucus held again this morning, and in another procedural victory (passed 60-39) kept the health overhaul bill moving toward passage by Christmas.

Democratic senators brief media on health overhaul. i i

Democratic senators brief the media on a key health overhaul vote Monday. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Evan Vucci/AP
Democratic senators brief media on health overhaul.

Democratic senators brief the media on a key health overhaul vote Monday.

Evan Vucci/AP

Even now, though, the Democrats' coalition remains a fragile one. Liberals in the Senate aren't happy about the sacrifice of a government-run public option. Same goes for restrictions on abortion funding, needed to win support from Nebraska's Ben Nelson 60th vote over the weekend.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who replaced liberal stalwart Sen. Edward Kennedy as chairman of the Senate's health and education committee, sought to soothe those in his party who were dissatisfied with the compromises. There will be time to rework the plan, he said at a media briefing Monday.

"This is just the beginning," Harkin said. "What we're building is a starter home, not a mansion. And guess what? We have room for expansions and additions later on."

Would that mean a rebirth of the public option in the negotiations to merge House and Senate health bills? That would be a tough one. "House negotiators will need to remember one important thing: The Senate's margin for error is zero, So any single Senator who says no can stop the entire effort in its tracks," reports NPR's Julie Rovner.

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