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Congress: Room for compromise

The Hill and Roll Call noticed, as we did, that congressional liberals, including the top three Dem House leaders -- Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn -- showed some room for compromise on the public option.

The Hill: "Political momentum appeared to swing sharply against the public health insurance option prized by liberals Tuesday, on the eve of President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate on Tuesday signaled they are increasingly willing to pass healthcare reform without a public insurance option, even while Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) again insisted it must be included in a House healthcare bill."

Roll Call: "Amid fresh signs that the White House is preparing to back a scaled-down health care overhaul that would only include a public insurance option as a fallback plan, several House liberals told Roll Call that they could support such a bill depending on how it was structured. The 'trigger' approach has been considered a deal-killer by liberals on and off Capitol Hill, and the willingness of some Congressional Progressive Caucus members to entertain it reflects a recognition that a bruising August recess has imperiled prospects for reform and redrawn expectations for what is possible."

Has the Baucus bill become less relevant than it was two weeks ago?

Meanwhile, a Massachusetts legislative panel meets today to consider the late Ted Kennedy's request to appoint an interim senator to his seat. The Boston Globe editorial page today advocates for one, but also slaps the Democratic supermajority: Sometimes, "the legislative leadership has acted drunk with power, making reasonable people yearn for balance and debate. The 2004 decision to strip the governor of the right to choose an interim senator was one such abuse. Now, depriving Massachusetts of representation in the US Senate to cover up for a past mistake would be another act of surpassing arrogance. The coming vote is a test, indeed -- a test of the Legislature's ability to look beyond its nose and do what's clearly right for the Commonwealth."

"Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) will announce on Wednesday morning that he will remain as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, opting not to take over as chairman of the health panel," The Hill reports.

"Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who heads the Environment and Public Works Committee, insisted Tuesday that her panel will introduce sweeping energy reform legislation by the end of the month," Roll Call writes.