From NBC's Ken Strickland
The group of 10 progressive and moderate Democratic senators negotiating a deal on the public option may be close to a deal. The group is meeting this morning and will be throughout the day, according to senators in the group.
"This is the first time we've said, 'We're going to go in here, and we're going to keep going,'" said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) before going into the meeting this morning.
When asked if a deal would be reached today following last night's meeting, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, "Yeah. But having said that, I just feel like I've jinxed it."
While going out of his way to say there was no deal yet, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledged momentum within the group.
"We have very good vibes in the room," he said, "which is that people want to come to an agreement but we've got a lot of bumps in the road still. We're going to be meeting all day today."
The likely deal will involve a package of fixes. The most talked about -- but not solidified -- include the establishment of a national healthcare plan administered by the government, but run by private insurance companies. It will be similar to the plans offered to members of Congress and their staff.
The other two often discussed programs would be expanding Medicaid to those whose incomes are within 150% of poverty and allowing more people to buy into Medicare, starting a 55 years of age.
"The overall framework, the way I've put it, is some in our caucus want more government involvement, some in our caucus want less government," Schumer said today. "The question is how do you thread that needle."
Yesterday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pushed members of the group "to get it done," according to a leadership aide. The aide said that Reid hoped to start the complex procedural hurdles this week that would lead to final passage, and having a deal on public option would be critical to start that process.
Feingold said the group's work "is key" to Reid efforts.
"It's probably the biggest thing left other than this vote today" on an abortion amendment, he said. There is still no definitive word on when exactly the vote on the Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) abortion amendment to the Senate healthcare bill will happen. The debate continued through this morning, and the vote is expected today, probably in the afternoon.
But members were quick to signal that even a deal today reached within the group would not be the high-water mark.
"I don't think [the group] agreeing to something -- if we do -- constitutes passage in the Senate," Rockefeller said after the meeting broke up Monday night. Some Democrats outside the group have expressed skepticism about parts of the potential deal. "It's so intense. We can't lose anybody, so the stake are so high."