Democrats on Saturday clinched the votes needed to advance the Senate's version of President Obama's health care overhaul to the floor for a historic debate scheduled to begin shortly after 8 p.m..
Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas was the last of three Democratic holdouts to announce her support for the procedural vote. Earlier, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said she would support the debate, one day after Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced his intent to vote
If ever there was an example of what the 24 hour news cycle has done it's the reportage on this story. This vote is the ultimate in inside baseball, normally. Yet, all of cable news has reported on each and every twist and turn in this over the last week.
It's become the cable news version of a soap opera. Ultimately, it's one very small step in a long process. Procedurally, it means that debate will simply start. None of the three Senators: Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, and Blanche Lincoln have committed to voting against the filibuster that will come. Senator Joe Liberman could also join the Republicans in a filibuster.
So, all this means is that the legislative process will begin in the Senate in December. It doesn't mean that the bill will overcome a filibuster. It certainly doesn't mean that a final bill will overcome a threshold. Yet, this vote, later this evening, has become the political story over the week. It's received wall to wall coverage. Welcome to the brave new world of 24 hour cable news.