And there it is: Fourteeen votes for the Baucus bill, nine against. Maine Republican Olympia Snowe joined the entire Democratic delegation, including Blanche Lincoln, Jay Rockfeller, and Ron Wyden, the Democrats most likely to defect.
Just a few weeks ago, the survival of health care reform seemed seriously in doubt. Town halls were turning into riots, Betsy McCaughey was running amok, and President Obama's popularity ratings were sinking. Putting together fifty, let alone sixty, votes for health reform seemed like an awfully tall order.
It's still not a done deal. Snowe wants more concessions. So do conservative Democrats, on and off the Finance Committee. But these concessions would further weaken a bill that many Democrats (and this writer) are hoping to strengthen as the process moves forward.
Still, the signal is unmistakable. It's not just possible that health reform will pass. It now seems likely.
More analysis to follow.