Based on the news below, Matt Lewis asked on Twitter, “How much money would Mike Huckabee immediately raise were he to announce he was challenging B. Lincoln for Senate?” Oh, how I wish.
From the Wall Street Journal, this afternoon:
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a centrist Democrat from AR, said Saturday she would vote to move forward with debate on health-care legislation, giving Democrats what appeared to be the 60 votes needed to bring the sweeping bill to the Senate floor for debate….
Sen. Lincoln, who faces a tough reelection battle next year, said it is “important that we begin this debate” and not “simply drop the issue and walk away.” She added a bit later: “I’m not afraid of that debate.”
Her comments came few hours after Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said she would vote to move forward with debate, and a day after Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) said he, too, would vote to move forward. The 3 senators had all been undecided for weeks, casting doubt on the vote planned for Saturday on whether to proceed.
The vote, likely later Saturday, will be the first test in the full Senate for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who unveiled his bill Wednesday night. He needs the votes of all 58 Senate Democrats, plus 2 independents allied with the party, to overcome a Republican filibuster on the question of whether to proceed with the bill. The legislation would overhaul the nation’s health-care system and extend insurance to 31 million Americans now without coverage.
Earlier Saturday, Sen. Landrieu said she was ready to join in support of debate, giving Mr. Reid much-needed momentum. “I’ve decided that there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward, but much more work needs to be done,” Sen. Landrieu said.
Sen. Nelson… secured one of several favors that Democratic leaders doled out to win over waverers: He persuaded them to keep out a provision that would repeal the insurance industry’s antitrust exemption, congressional aides said….
Mr. Reid this week also made a strong play for the support of Ms. Landrieu, a centrist Democrat, adding a provision that would steer an estimated $200 million to $250 million in Medicaid funds to her state in fiscal 2011….
Charles Krauthammer is calling these legislative bribes “a new kind of business as usual.”
[Photos of Landrieu and Lincoln via the Associated Press; photo of Reid via the New York Times]