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Reid: Democrats Will Do ‘Very Utmost’ to Finish Health Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday continued to set the end of the year as the deadline for passing a health care reform bill, but he was vague as to how he would be able to get it done.Speaking to reporters, Reid said Democrats would “do our very utmost to finish health care before the end of the year,— but he acknowledged that result depends on finding agreements among Democrats on a number of different issues.Asked when he believes he will attempt to bring the four-day-long debate to an end, Reid said, “When we work out all the problems we have on the legislation.— He added that those solutions would come “soon.—Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the top two remaining issues to be resolved are how to structure a public insurance option and how strictly to restrict federal funding of abortion.“What Harry Reid is looking for and what we need is to come together with an answer on the public option. It’s one of the two really critical issues remaining with the issue of abortion,— Durbin said.Despite a slow start to holding amendment votes to the bill, Reid vowed, “We’re going to have votes this weekend.— The first votes on amendments did not occur until Thursday, and the Senate is expected to work both Saturday and Sunday.Reid said the next Democratic amendments he expects on the floor will be a Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) proposal to further restrict federal funds from being used to pay for abortions and a Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) amendment to allow lower-cost prescription drugs to be imported from other countries.The language of Nelson’s amendment is similar to a measure that passed as a part of the House reform bill written by Rep. Bart Stupak (Mich.), an anti-abortion-rights Democrat, and the Nebraskan reiterated that such a proposal must be included as a part of the Senate package or he will not vote to end debate on final bill and allow it to move to passage.“I’ve said at the end of the day, if it doesn’t have Stupak language on abortion in it I won’t vote to move it off the floor,— Nelson told reporters. “This isn’t anything new, I’ve said this for a long time. I think people are finally hearing it.—David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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