The Senate just voted to table Sen. Ben Nelson’s abortion amendment to the health care bill, effectively killing it and forcing Nelson’s hand on his threat to filibuster the bill if the restrictions on abortion coverage were not included.
The problem is Nelson holds all the cards. So assuming Nelson is unyielding on his filibuster threat, which seems like a reasonable assumption at this point, that means the Democrats need a GOP senator to get to 60. The most likely GOPer to defect is Olympia Snowe, but she comes with pretty high price: no public option for sure. She’s cool to even the latest compromise that would remove public option in exchange for expanding Medicare. Brian Beutler elaborates on this dynamic here.
Late Update: Interestingly, Nelson was conciliatory after the vote, declining to reiterate his filibuster threat. Could it be that Nelson much prefers being “in play”?
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.