FEATURED:

Unhealthy Dem division

Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonShould the Rob Porter outcome set the standard? Make the compromise: Ending chain migration is a small price to legalize Dreamers Assessing Trump's impeachment odds through a historic lens 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 ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake 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 LandrieuProject Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' MORE of Louisiana, Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill welcomes ninth grandson in a row Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities 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 WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees 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 WarnerLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Mueller indictment reveals sophisticated Russian manipulation effort GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments 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 NelsonGingrich says arming teachers only long-term solution to school shootings Florida students turn to activism in wake of shooting CNN invites Trump to town hall with parents, students of Florida high school MORE (Fla.), Jim Webb (Va.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterWith vote against Brownback, Democrats abandon religious freedom Democrat Manchin: Pence attacks prove ‘they don't want bipartisanship’ in Trump admin Tester invited the Border Patrol Union’s president to the State of the Union. What does that say to Dreamers?   MORE (Mont.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Max BaucusMax Sieben Baucus2020 Dems pose a big dilemma for Schumer Steady American leadership is key to success with China and Korea Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate MORE (Mont.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganPolitics is purple in North Carolina Democrats can win North Carolina just like Jimmy Carter did in 1976 North Carolina will be a big battleground state in 2020 MORE (N.C.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTrump states would bear brunt of gas tax increase: conservative groups Trump talk riles advocates on both sides of gas tax Senate bill would let EPA implement global greenhouse gas deal MORE (Del.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetColorado senators pitch immigration compromise Colorado senators mark Olympics with Senate hallway curling GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races 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.