Bayh to support first procedural vote on healthcare

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D) Wednesday evening said he would support the first procedural vote on the Senate healthcare bill, becoming the second centrist Democrat to pledge to do so.

Upon leaving an hour-long caucus meeting in which Democratic leaders laid out the $849 billion bill, Bayh told The Hill he plans to support the first cloture vote on a motion to proceed to the bill. Such a vote is necessary before debate can begin, but a handful of wavering Democrats had openly expressed skepticism.

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"At the end of the process, I'll avoid the Washington two-step of voting to go forward but then voting against the final bill," Bayh said. "But this is just a starting point, so at this point I do think there's a difference."

Earlier Wednesday, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) issued a statement rejecting a Republican argument that procedural votes and substantial votes are identical, suggesting that he too would support early procedural votes.

Bayh also said was "encouraged" by the figures presented late Wednesday, which called for deficit reduction of $127 billion over the first 10 years and $650 billion over the second decade.