No Surprise: US Backs Obama Not GOP on Healthcare

The numbers from Gallup:

Must be great news for Republicans!

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NBC/WSJ Poll: Support for Public Option Growing

Check out the latest numbers teased from this evening's forthcoming NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing that support is growing for the public option and that more than seven in ten in this country believe it is important to give Americans a choice of a public option.

Images grabbed from MSNBC -- click to enlarge

Per Chuck Todd, the favor/oppose question on the left is "a straightforward question that we've been asking for four months... For the first time, this is the largest gap between favor and oppose we've shown." Todd later explained that these numbers are "good news for public option advocates and probably good news for Senator Reid." Indeed. At a time when the Senate is moving towards an important debate over the public option, polling showing that support for a public option has reached a new high despite sustained criticism from the right and that 72 percent of the country believes it to be important to give Americans a choice of a government-run program only strengthens the hands of proponents of the public option.

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Senate Rejects Filibuster of Hate Crimes Bill

Joe Sudbay has the details:

By a margin of 64 - 35, the Senate just voted to invoke cloture on the conference report for Department of Defense authorization. That means the Senate can move toward final passage of the conference report, which includes the Hate Crimes language. This was a major hurdle, basically a filibuster -- and it's been overcome. Passage in the Senate is the final step in the legislative process. (The hate crimes bill did pass, and beat a filibuster, in the last Congress, so this wasn't completely unexpected. But, this is the first time hate crimes made it into the Dept. of Defense authorization conference report. ) This should pretty much guarantee that the bill will again pass both houses of Congress and head to the president soon for his signature.

Only one Democrat, Russ Feingold, voted in opposition to cloture, while five Republicans -- Susan Collins, Dick Lugar, Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snowe and George Voinovich -- voted in favor. Hate Crimes protection on the basis of sexual orientation should thus be on its way to becoming law.

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Lieberman is All Bark and No Bite

Earlier this week, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman did his darndest to get headlines by hinting at opposition to healthcare reform. Turns out -- and this is little surprise -- Lieberman was just blowing hot air.

U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., whose vote could be crucial to breaking an expected GOP filibuster on health care legislation, Thursday said he would consider voting to move the bill forward, even if he ultimately casts his ballot against the reform package.

It was pretty clear that what Lieberman was looking for was attention rather than any meaningful changes to healthcare reform legislation. At this point, Lieberman doesn't have much leverage over his Democratic colleagues, whose support he relies upon (along with that of the President) to maintain his chairmanship and seniority; were he to actually to be the one member of the Senate Democratic caucus to vote to sink healthcare reform, it's difficult to fathom him not being stripped of his power, so he does not represent nearly as credible of a threat as he would have us believe. As a result, Lieberman has had to walk back his weak threat, conceding that he could very well vote for cloture even if he votes against the ultimate bill -- a position that would likely be palatable to (even if not loved by) those Democrats now allowing him the privileges of seniority.

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Healthcare Slated to Hit Senate Floor October 26

With health care reform legislation advancing out of the Senate Finance Committee on a bipartisan 14 to 9 vote this afternoon, Senate Democrats are aiming to bring a combined bill to the floor by October 26, according to a leadership aide.

The bill passed out of Finance today must still be combined with legislation previously passed through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee before it can reach the floor, and there remain significant differences between the two bills.

Once the two bills are merged and the bill is brought to the floor, Senate Democrats are likely to hand the reigns of managing the floor debate over the combined legislation to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Finance Committee, and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who previously shepherded the bill through the HELP Committee.

Senate debate over the bill will unlimited unless cloture is invoked. Sixty votes will thus be required in order for the Democrats to proceed to a vote on healthcare reform, barring a move to pass a package through the reconciliation process -- a move President Obama signaled an openness to during a conference call with MyDD and other blogs in July. But with the Democratic caucus in the Senate boasting 60 members, today's vote by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in favor of reform could augur well for Democratic hopes of being able to succeed on a cloture motion to pass healthcare legislation through the entire Senate this fall.

And to add...First Read reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expecting her chamber to vote on its version of healthcare reform by Thanksgiving.

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