By Mark Memmott

It looks like President Barack Obama and his allies have the 60th vote they need in the Senate to cut off debate and move ahead on health care legislation.

The Associated Press, which earlier was quoting unnamed "Democratic officials" as saying that Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., has decided to support the measure, now adds that:

Nelson had a brief response -- "Yeah" -- when asked (this morning) whether he would support the measure as he strode into a private caucus of fellow Democrats.

The Washington Post writes that:

Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, was prepared to announce to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.
"We're there," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), as he headed into a special meeting to announce the deal.

It's expected that the Senate will vote this afternoon to end debate on the overhaul legislation.

As the Omaha World-Herald reminds us the "crucial sticking point" for Nelson has been "the bill's restrictions on federal funding for abortion coverage. Nelson has been pushing for the tighter restrictions approved by the House."

categories: Health, Politics

9:41 - December 19, 2009