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Congress: Reid gets his score

The Boston Globe on the Senate bill: "Senate majority leader Harry Reid unveiled his long-awaited version of a sweeping health care bill last night, setting the stage for a tense Senate showdown pitting Republicans against a fragile and fractured Democratic majority." The first big vote could come as early as Saturday. Democrats are hoping they have the 60 votes necessary to advance the bill to debate. "The handful of moderate senators who will decide the question seemed likely to support opening the debate."

The AP: "After months of maneuvering, the Senate stands at the brink of a historic battle over health care with President Barack Obama and his allies on one side and Republicans, outnumbered but unflinching, on the other." Delay, delay, delay? Mitch McConnell's response: "Now it's America's turn, and this will not be a short debate."

The DNC says it's "calling out" McConnell. "McConnell seems willing to use every trick in the book to delay a fair debate and vote on reform. Each day reform is postponed is another day for him to attack it with another distortion. It's a desperate gambit to confuse the American people, derail the effort in Congress, and block reform. Mitch McConnell, we're calling you out."

"Among the major provisions in the 2,074-page bill is a public health insurance plan that would let states opt out. Lawmakers insisted the bill won't pay for abortion or help illegal immigrants," the New York Daily News notes. The measure does not have the even more restrictive anti-abortion language the House bill features, which would affect private policies and has created a potential roadblock to passage. Sources said Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch will offer an amendment to make the language the same."

The New York Times adds, "Though broadly similar to the House bill, Mr. Reid's proposal differs in important ways. It would, for example, increase the Medicare payroll tax on high-income people and impose a new excise tax on high-cost "Cadillac health plans" offered by employers to their employees."

Here's NBC Nightly News' report on Sen. Robert Byrd becoming the longest-serving member of Congress ever.

Health vote, a measure of blackness? "The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Wednesday night criticized Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) for voting against the Democrats' signature healthcare bill. 'We even have blacks voting against the healthcare bill,' Jackson said at a reception Wednesday night. 'You can't vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.'"