Updated: Dec. 5, 1:17 p.m.
President Barack Obama is expected to meet with Senate Democrats in a special caucus at 2 p.m. on Sunday as the chamber continues a rare weekend debate of its health care reform bill, sources said.
Details of the visit were sketchy, but Obama’s drop-by could be a harbinger of how close Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is to starting the time-consuming procedural maneuvers that will slowly bring debate to a close before Christmas. Aides and Senators said Reid may seek to begin that process late next week, but he must first attempt to secure compromises on a number of issues, such as whether to create a public insurance option and how strong to restrict federal funding of abortions.
Reid opened the Senate session Saturday at 10 a.m., announcing that he hoped to have at least two votes around 2 p.m. Saturday on an amendment from Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) to limit tax deductions that health insurance company CEOs could take, as well as a Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) motion to eliminate the bill’s $42 billion in reductions in home health care services under Medicare. There could also be votes on Republican and Democratic alternatives to both of those proposals, aides said.
Reid defended his decision to keep the Senate in over the weekend in a speech Saturday morning.
“Fourteen thousand people every day lose their health insurance in America,— he said on the Senate floor. “The American people don’t get weekends off from this injustice. … And so our work continues this weekend. It will continue until we give this nation’s citizens a health insurance system that works for them.—