The reconciliation bill, containing health insurance and student loan reform measures, was originally scheduled to pass on Saturday. Democrats managed to cut a day off that process by yielding eight and a half hours of their debate time.
Now, they have caught a break that will allow them to cut another day off the process, and pass the bill Thursday. Senate Republicans are voluntarily limiting the number of amendments they are offering, to focus on the "substantive" one. From The Hill:
Senate Republicans had threatened to offer scores or even hundreds of amendments to keep the healthcare legislation from getting out of the chamber.
But GOP lawmakers have decided not to employ the dilatory tactic and instead call for votes on substantive amendments.
"We've decided that offering 200 or 300 amendments doesn't make sense," said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the Senate's leading conservatives. "The leadership has asked us to focus on substantive amendments."
DeMint predicted the voting could wrap up by Thursday afternoon.
"Substantive" is a subjective term, but I will avoid the semantic discussion for now.
It is worth noting that this is the second time this week Republicans have abandoned a grandstanding delay tactic of filibuster by amendment. On Monday, they allowed the financial reform bill to sail through the Banking Committee in only 20 minutes, without offering a single amendment. Are they starting to buckle a bit?
The Senate is moving through about three Republican amendments an hour. The current plan from Harry Reid is to go until 1 a.m. tonight, and then assess how many more hours it will take to finish the bill.
The reconciliation bill will be done tomorrow. No word on whether there has been a deal made on the unemployment benefit extension, however. A Senate aide told me earlier today that they "hope" to take it up late in the week. The outcome of that process will be a good indication of whether Republicans actually are starting to buckle, or not.
C-SPAN is live broadcasting, and Wonkroom is live tweeting, tonight's proceedings.