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Congress: Bernie's not on board, yet

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) ain't on board -- yet. "I'm struggling with this," he said on Fox News, per PoliticalWire. "As of this point, I'm not voting for the bill... I'm going to do my best to make this bill a better bill, a bill that I can vote for, but I've indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point. And here is the reason. When the public option was withdrawn, because of Lieberman's action, what I worry about is how do you control escalating health care costs? ... I am doing my best right now to make this a better bill for the American people."

Asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" if she could you support the current legislation, now that it does not have a public option, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) responded, "It's a good question." She said she still has "concerns" with the legislation, including how much small businesses can expect in the bill and how much an average American would pay in premiums. "We still do not have answers," Snowe said.

"Liberal groups and labor unions have pulled back from calls to kill the Senate healthcare bill," The Hill writes, adding: "House Democrats and liberal interest groups are hoping to win a few concessions in conference, which is expected to wrap up in time for Obama to tout the completed bill during his first State of the Union address in January."

"Still, Democrats said they were determined to use all the tools at their disposal to ensure passage next week, despite the fact that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has yet to privately assure Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he will provide the 60th vote needed to break a GOP-led filibuster of the package," Roll Call writes. " 'I think we can get this done in time for each of us to go home for Christmas,' Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters."

"Democrats in the House Wednesday muscled through a year-end plan to create jobs, mixing about $50 billion for public works projects with another almost $50 billion for cash-strapped state and local governments," the New York Daily News writes. "Not a single Republican voted for the plan, which passed on a 217-212 vote after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., worked the floor for an hour. The measure now goes to the Senate, which won't consider the measure until next year and which generally has a smaller appetite for such deficit-financed economic stimulus measures."

"It was the second suspenseful vote of what House members hope was their last workday in 2009," The Hill notes. "Democratic leaders also had to lobby members from conservative districts to pass a $300 billion increase in the debt limit." (They also passed the debt ceiling increased 218-214.

Nancy Pelosi says she's now done being Legislator In Chief. She now moves to being Campaigner In Chief as 2010 rolls around. "As I told the members this morning," she said, "I'm in campaign modeā€¦ I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm in campaign mode." On 2010, she said, per The Hill: "I think we will have a Democratic majority. I don't think there's any risk to that." But she acknowledged that the party would probably lose seats next November. "It's been a swing of about 110 seats," she said, referring to the 2006 and 2008 election results. "That is really challenging to sustain. But that's our goal, to sustain our majority. And we'll have a strong majority."

Oh, the games they play... "Republicans accused Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin of being biased toward Democrats on Wednesday after he made a procedural ruling that allowed Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to short-circuit GOP efforts to derail his health care overhaul legislation," Roll Call reports. "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of 'somehow [convincing] the Parliamentarian to break with the long-standing precedent and practice of the Senate in the reading of the bill,' saying it proved Democrats will resort to any means necessary to pass the bill."