By Alexander Bolton - 12/18/09 06:16 PM EST
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will make his final offer on healthcare legislation on Saturday morning, unveiling a highly-anticipated amendment to the Senate healthcare bill.
Reid will unveil his amendment with a cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shortly after the Senate votes at around 7:30 Saturday morning to clear a Defense spending bill.
“That’s the plan, soon after that vote because we want to file cloture on that quickly,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
Reid’s amendment will include all the changes he has proposed to secure the votes of 60 Democratic senators for the healthcare bill. The amendment may include a compromise on abortion language, a sticking point for centrist Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
Durbin said it was necessary to unveil Reid’s amendment and file a motion to cut of a GOP filibuster on Saturday morning to set up a preliminary vote at 1 a.m. Monday.
Lawmakers must vote early Monday to cut off debate on Reid’s amendment if they are to stick to a timeline that would set a final vote on the healthcare bill after 7 pm on Christmas Eve.
Republicans may demand that Senate clerks read aloud Reid’s amendment, which could total several hundred pages. But Democrats say a reading could be completed within the same day and would not disrupt the schedule.
Durbin said Democratic leaders do not plan to bring lawmakers back to Washington between Christmas and New Year’s to pass a $290 billion increase of the nation’s debt limit.
“I think we’re going to do our best to avoid” returning between Christmas and New Year’s, said Durbin.
Durbin said lawmakers would “most likely return the first week of January” to raise the debt limit.
Treasury Department officials had told lawmakers that they would need new borrowing authority by Dec. 31.
But Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Thursday the government may have gained new funding flexibility as a result of banks paying back funds to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).