In the Senate Finance Committee, it's all over but the voting, and Democratic hopes for health care reform now rest with Harry Reid, who has to pull something cogent (and passable) out of a welter of conflicting proposals from several committees. That puts him the "in the eye of an ideological storm," the Washington Post reports, noting that his own statements about the hot-button public health insurance option have wavered from staunchly pro to accepting any "mechanism to keep insurers honest, create competition and keep costs down."
As the Max Baucus bill lurched through markup over the last two weeks, many senators have been holding their fire, Polico notes, keeping the powder dry on their favorite amendments until they get to the floor, or even House-Senate conference. The Baucus bill has no public option, but Chuck Schumer plans to bring it back in the conference committee; John Kerry plans a second coming for the defeated employer mandate, too. There's still plenty of horse-trading to be done, Politico adds, and Olympia Snowe, the Dems' best (and perhaps only) prospect for GOP support, will be the target of much of it.