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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid closed in on clinching 60 votes for a public health insurance option Friday as two key moderates signaled they wouldn’t stand in his way – clearing a path for Reid to finish work on a bill as early as Tuesday, Democratic officials said.
The moves came a day after Reid presented his idea for a public plan with a state “opt-out” to a skeptical President Barack Obama, who didn’t balk at the idea but questioned whether Reid could truly round up the votes, two sources familiar with the Oval Office meeting said.
So Reid (D-Nev.) spent Friday counting the votes on different public option proposals and finding out what wavering senators need to support the bill – with a heavy focus on centrists in his caucus who now hold the key to health reform.
The quick-moving developments come as Democrats in the House and Senate scramble to lock down votes on the public option, a major hurdle that must be cleared before legislation can move forward in either chamber. With two months left on the legislative calendar, the chances of delivering a bill to the president’s desk by Christmas diminish the longer Democrats wrangle over public option.