Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Senior Congressional Democrats told ABC News today it is highly unlikely that a health care reform bill will be completed this year, just a week after President Barack Obama declared he was "absolutely confident" he'll be able to sign one by then.

"Getting this done by the by the end of the year is a no-go," a senior Democratic leadership aide told ABC News. Two other key Congressional Democrats also told ABC News the same thing.

This may come as an unwelcome surprise for the White House, where officials from the president on down have repeatedly said the health care bill would be signed into law by the end of the year.

"I am absolutely confident that we are going to get health care done by the end of this year, and Nancy Pelosi is just as confident," Obama said Oct. 27 at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi may still be confident -- and her spokesman Brendan Daly said today, "We are going to get our part done" -- but the reason for the delay can be found in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has yet to release the bill he eventually plans to bring to the Senate floor. Reid is still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to come up with an estimated cost of several possible variations of his bill before deciding which one to introduce in the Senate.

That cost estimate, Democrats tell ABC News, is not expected until next week.

Asked directly by ABC News, "Will you pass health care reform this year?" Reid pointedly did not answer "yes."

Elections have consequences and Washington was watching yesterday's elections closely. They were especially watching Virginia where the race was a straight-up head to head contest between a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat in a state which swung for Obama just last year.

The handwriting is on the wall and Harry Reid, who is currently favored to lose his bid for reelection in Nevada next year, is not going to fall on his sword for B. Hussein Obama - not when Obama's job approval numbers have fallen below 50% among likely voters and his endorsement of Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Creigh Deeds in Virginia were clearly harmful to those candidates.

Also reading the handwriting will be the House's "Blue-Dog" Democrats, who were elected in 2006 from conservative districts, and who now have to choose between ending their careers by supporting the extreme left-wing agenda of Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team or giving themselves a fighting chance of reelection by distancing themselves from the White House and their own leadership.

This is a difficult problem for these Democrats since their party does not tolerate "mavericks" (compare the fates of John McCain and Joe Lieberman) but it is a problem they are all going to have to grapple with in the days ahead.