Harry Reid's Death March

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They’re calling it the legislative equivalent of the Bataan Death March. Majority Leader Harry Reid says he’s willing to force the Senate to work through every weekend in December to get a health care bill passed before the Christmas holiday. “Long nights, weekends — constantly, from then until right before Christmas, when I think we’ll have the votes, hopefully, to pass the bill,” is how Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin described Mr. Reid’s plans.

But some Senate Democrats are balking not just at such a schedule but at Mr. Reid’s demand that the bill be delivered to the floor this week in the absence of final legislative language or a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.


One Senate Democrat who finds herself in political hot water on health care is Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. She trails some potential Republican challengers in polls and has said she’s leery of supporting a procedural motion to bring a health care bill to the floor unless she can see the final bill.

Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are also balking at forcing a health care debate so early. On the other hand, Senators Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh have both indicated that, while they have problems with the health care bill, they will vote with Mr. Reid on a motion to proceed with debate.

Mr. Reid will need every single one of his 60 caucus votes to overcome a filibuster threat, since all 40 Republicans appear ready to oppose the legislation. But 91-year-old West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd is ill and has missed 130 Senate roll call votes this year, so any vote to begin the health care debate may hinge on his availability.

‘John Fund is a columnist with the Wall Street Journal’