Centrist Dem holdouts sit down with Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis week: Congress awaits Comey testimony Will Republicans grow a spine and restore democracy? Racial representation: A solution to inequality in the People’s House MORE (D-Nev.) met on Wednesday with centrist Democrats, hoping to end a standoff that has kept the Senate from debating healthcare reform.

Democratic Sens. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) strode together into Reid's Capitol office at the majority leader's invitation to get an early look at the legislation.

Reid has been working hard, with the help of other Democrats and the White House, to secure their support for a critical test vote needed to call up the healthcare reform legislation. The vote could take place as early as Saturday before lawmakers depart for the weeklong Thanksgiving recess.

The meeting between Reid and the centrists has special urgency because the Democratic leader plans Wednesday to finally unveil the version of the healthcare reform bill — and its Congressional Budget Office cost estimate — that the Senate will debate after the break.

So far, Landrieu, Lincoln and Nelson have refused to commit to supporting the motion to proceed, which requires 60 votes to be approved. Republicans are unanimous in their opposition, so Reid needs every member of his conference to vote in favor.

"We're still counting, Harry's still counting, and that's all I can say," Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinCongress urges Trump administration to release public transit funding Dem senator compares Trump to Blagojevich Rosenstein: I stand by Comey memo MORE (D-Ill.) said prior to Reid's meeting with the centrists.

In the hours before Reid will brief all Senate Democrats, the Democratic leadership is getting an assist at shoring up support for the effort from the Obama administration and other allies.

Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden fuels 2020 speculation Biden calls for unity: 'It’s time for America to get up' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (a former senator from Colorado) and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) conferred with Reid in the morning and are engaged in an effort to bring aboard reluctant Democrats.
Reid could take formal steps Thursday to set up the critical Saturday vote, but the timing remains in flux. The Senate could remain in session into next week or depart without advancing the healthcare bill.