According to him, as of right now we can expect to see the bill pass the Senate, sans public option and medicare buy-in reforms, and go to conference committee around December 26th. From there we'll likely see a two-week conference and a vote in both the House and Senate on passage sometime in early/mid-January.
What's the deal with the conference committee? I'll let Rich Galen handle it from here:
The House-Senate conferees will meet in secret. They will craft a bill which looks nothing like what either chamber passed and they will each bring that version (known as a "Conference Report") back to their respective floors for a final vote.Rich does a great job with this info, eh? Make sure you subscribe to his publication, Mullings, at http://www.mullings.com.
This is a little complicated, but it is worth the typing. Conference Reports are privileged, meaning they can be brought up at any time and the motion to do so is not debatable. However, the Conference Report itself - in the Senate - is subject to filibuster and so needs 60 votes to pass.
Unless … It is a Conference Report presented as a "budget reconciliation bill" in which case 51 votes suffice. What is a "budget reconciliation bill?" That phrase is understood by only two people … and they don't agree.
Seriously, though. Because of the enormous budget implications of this legislation, it is quite likely that Harry Reid (D-Nev) will bring up the Conference Report under reconciliation. Republicans will scream bloody murder. Democrats will sheepishly withdraw to the cloak room. The bill will pass the House and the Senate and, healthy or not, it will go to the President for his signature.
Now don't think for a minute that it's an acceptable bill just because it's missing that scrappy public option(for now, at least).
It's still an obnoxiously expensive mess. And we must keep up the pressure.