Democrats indicate that they have Ben Nelson's agreement on passing the government health care takeover

I suppose that this is what was expected.

But there were other signs Democratic leadership felt good about securing Nelson’s vote. “"It's been a long, hard but extremely productive day," Schumer said. “I've been in Harry Reid's office for 13 hours, and I'm glad to get out of there."

Reid needs to get a deal in place to begin the procedural steps necessary to pass the health care bill by Christmas Eve. Immediately following the vote on the DOD bill, Reid is expected to introduce the health care compromise language as part of a “managers’ amendment.” Senate Republicans are then expected to ask for a full reading of the amendment, which could take several hours, depending on its length.

Reid needs the reading to end by 11:59 p.m. Saturday. This is because Reid needs at least one day, which would be Sunday, between when he moves to end the debate on the amendment and when the Senate votes early Monday morning.

Nelson may not signal his support for the deal publicly. But Senate Democratic aides say if Reid introduces the amendment Saturday, he has been reasonably assured that he has 60 votes to break a series of Republican filibusters next week. There is a chance Reid could move ahead without private assurances, but that is widely considered a very high-risk strategy. . . .



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