Unhealthy Dem division

Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe case for a ‘Presidents’ Club’ to advise Trump After FBI cleared by IG report, GOP must reform itself Bill Clinton hits Trump administration policy separating immigrant families in Father's Day tweet MORE — the Big Dog himself — called on Senate Democrats at the Capitol this week, imploring them to compromise on healthcare reform.“We’re winning,” he said, his optimism tempered with warnings about the cost of inaction, losing the House and Senate in 1994 and other bad memories. But Clinton’s declaration is wrong. He knows the Democrats aren’t winning — if they were, the White House wouldn’t have asked him to make the visit.

After uniting behind healthcare reform as a central tenet of their social policy agenda for decades, Democrats are now risking everything in the eleventh hour over their differences on abortion. Language authored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) banning federal funding for abortion, even in private insurance programs, passed in the House bill over the weekend but has since sparked a revolt among pro-choice Democrats now threatening passage of any final, merged House-Senate conference bill that contains the Stupak provision.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary MORE (D-Nev.) plans to bring up a bill early next week but thus far has neither a score from the Congressional Budget Office nor the 60 votes required to proceed to the bill he wrote outside the committee process, which his caucus members have yet to read.

The list of obstacles begins with reticent Democrats leadership has been watching all year: Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuLandrieu dynasty faces a pause in Louisiana Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Project Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns MORE of Louisiana, Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillSenate moderates hunt for compromise on family separation bill Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral Hillicon Valley: Verizon, AT&T call off data partnerships after pressure | Tech speaks out against Trump family separation policy | T-Mobile, Sprint make case for B merger MORE of Missouri and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Centrists largely opposed to a public plan, they are now split over abortion, with McCaskill criticizing the House-passed restrictions and Nelson demanding they remain intact. Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), an Independent who caucuses with Democrats and — at regular intervals — drives them up a wall, is threatening to filibuster over the public option. He told The Boston Globe this week that he isn’t alone, estimating the number of reticent Democrats in the double digits, at “different levels of intensity.”

Lieberman is likely correct that the pool of potential reform-killers in the Democratic Conference could stretch well beyond the usual suspects. Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Senators hammer Ross over Trump tariffs MORE (Ore.), normally a reliable vote, is concerned the bills now under consideration don’t cut healthcare costs. And the potential for more bill-stopping concerns from the likes of Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerWray defends FBI after 'sobering' watchdog report Top Dems: IG report shows Comey's actions helped Trump win election Dem senator: Trump at G-7 made me ‘embarrassed for our country’ MORE (Va.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonFlorida lawmakers blocked from entering facility holding migrant children Transportation Department watchdog to examine airplane cabin evacuation standards Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court takes up Apple case | Senate votes to block ZTE deal | Officials testify on Clinton probe report | Russia's threat to undersea cables | Trump tells Pentagon to create 'space force' | FCC begins T-Mobile, Sprint deal review MORE (Fla.), Jim Webb (Va.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Defense: Trump orders Pentagon to help house immigrant families | Mattis says 'space force' needs legislation | VA pick gets hearing date Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral Senate panel schedules hearing on Trump VA pick MORE (Mont.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusClients’ Cohen ties become PR liability Green Party puts Dem seat at risk in Montana Business groups worried about Trump's China tariffs plan MORE (Mont.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichFormer Alaska senator jumps into governor race Overnight Energy: Trump directs Perry to stop coal plant closures | EPA spent ,560 on customized pens | EPA viewed postcard to Pruitt as a threat Perez creates advisory team for DNC transition MORE (Alaska), Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Politics is purple in North Carolina MORE (N.C.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Inhofe defends Pruitt after criticisms | Agency releases study on water contaminant | Trump rescinds Obama ocean policy Dems press EPA nominees on ethics, climate Overnight Energy: Senate panel sets Pruitt hearing | Colorado joins California with tougher emissions rules | Court sides with Trump on coal leasing program MORE (Del.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Senators hammer Ross over Trump tariffs MORE (Colo.) is much greater than the potential for consensus at this point. Let’s not forget that Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) has announced he will attempt — once again — to make history, by promising to oppose any bill that doesn’t contain a “robust” public option.

Even if Reid is afforded a Christmas miracle, passing a bill out of his chamber, the process for merging a House and Senate bill appears daunting at best.

Pro-choice Democrats have gathered enough signatures from Democrats prepared to vote against final passage of any bill containing the House-passed abortion language. And other liberal Democrats are threatening to oppose a watered-down public plan like the “trigger” proposed by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), which many view as the likely Senate fall-back, as well as the “opt-out” plan Reid has proposed.

Republicans didn’t need to heed the Catholic bishops who warned them not to obstruct passage of the House bill including new abortion limitations. Far better for the GOP to get out of the way so Democrats can obstruct healthcare reform themselves.

Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.