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Why has Congress set a Christmas deadline for healthcare reform?

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“At this point, momentum has a virtue, almost like a law of physics that has kicked in and is propelling this to a climax, and they don’t want to do anything to arrest that momentum, including a break,” he says.

August's town halls: lessons learned

For weeks, Democrats have been pounded by new polls reporting that public support for healthcare reform is below a majority and falling. Democratic leaders did not want their members to go home to face angry town hall meetings, as many did in August, without legislation in hand that will allow them to counter angry allegations with hard facts.

“It’s very hard to merchandise healthcare until we have a bill,” Speaker Pelosi added Wednesday.

Now, it seems, they might be able to.

Nelson's support makes passage of the bill through the Senate virtually assured. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a score of the revised bill Saturday. With Reid’s changes, CBO analysts project that the bill would cut the federal deficit by $139 billion over 10 years.

Democrats responded by promptly beginning their offensive. “This is the greatest deficit reduction bill in the history of the United States,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, the majority whip, Saturday on the floor of the Senate.

From 2020 to 2029, "it will reduce the deficit of the United States by $1.3 trillion," he added. "At the end of the day, 94 percent of the people in the United States will have health insurance – the highest percentage in our history.”

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