If all goes according to current plan, the Senate could be talking about the healthcare reform bill recently passed by the House as early as next week. And, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the whole process could still be done, with legislation signed by President Obama, before the end of the year.
That may be a little ambitious, however. And Reid's one of the problems at the moment -- as the New York Times noted on Wednesday, on top of everything else, "Reid still has not finalized the Senate version of the legislation. He is waiting for additional analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, with an eye toward keeping the 10-year cost of the bill at the roughly $900 billion suggested by Mr. Obama. Some lawmakers and White House officials have voiced increasing frustration with the delay."
Reid reportedly wants his version of the bill on the Senate floor before Thanksgiving. But even that is much later than Democrats had wanted to have all of this over with -- they've blown numerous deadlines now. Plus, given the recalcitrance of various senators, the thorny issues that still need to be worked out and the 60 votes that will be needed to defeat a Republican filibuster, that's not a whole lot of time in which to strike a deal and finish by Christmas.