Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remains the heavyweight champ of Washington dealmaking. His work in tandem with Charles Schumer of New York to reach a compromise on the abortion language included in the enormous health care reform bill was remarkable. This is big league politics on display.
Ben Nelson of Nebraska is one of the Senate’s most socially conservative members and was adamantly opposed to the health care bill’s abortion funding provision. On the other end of the spectrum are Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Patty Murray of Washington. They are fiercely Pro-Choice Demcorats.
Without Nelson’s vote, the Democrats wouldn’t have the 60 needed to fend off a Republican filibuster. And the health care reform bill, as flawed as it is, would have been lost.
What happened next is captured astutely by the Washington Post’s Paul Kane.
Reid takes a lot of criticism for a lot of issues, but the fact remains he is the Senate’s most accomplished political practitioner. Not only did he manage to round up the votes, he reminded the Republicans why the Democrats are in power in Washington: They compromise in order to be successful.
Notice how Reid has refrained from being sidetracked by the criticism and fence-straddling of Sen. Joe Lieberman. While Lieberman was scoring a few points with his Republican colleagues – he is a Republican, right? – his concerns were taken seriously. And if certain Democrats wanted to strangle the Independent, they didn’t let it show.
Reid is a master of counting votes and reaching consensus. He is the most important elected official in Nevada history. He has brought home more federal funding and pork to the state than anyone.
And if he doesn’t find a better way to communicate the message of the importance of his rank and the passage of the health care bill to everyday Nevada voters, he’ll be bounced out of office next November.