by Steve Handelsman
WASHINGTON (NBC) – The key vote on whether to start debate comes Saturday night, but both sides argued again Friday over the public option. Who pays, who gets covered in the Democrats $850 billion health care reform plan.
"It's going to reward what works in this system and change what doesn't work" said Senator Patty Murray, (D)-Washington.
"This bill will raise taxes by half a trillion dollars" said Senator Mike Enzi, (R)-Wyoming.
"And this bill is being rushed, and it shouldn't be rushed" said Senator Judd Gregg, (R)-New Hampshire.
To formally begin debate, Majority Leader Harry Reid needs 60 senators. That's every Democrat. Reid's vote counter is Dick Durbin.
"I've only been asked 30 or 40 times if I have the 60 votes. I'm not assuming a thing" said Senator Durbin, (D) Illinois.
At mid-day, Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska said he'll vote yes. Moderates Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas were holding out. But an insider said Reid has probably won the whole fight.
"I think at the end of the day, Reid gets his 60 votes, the Senate passes the bill, the House and Senate reconcile something and we have a healthy care reform bill" said Democratic strategist Julian Epstein.