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Burris, Webb Still Undecided on Health-Care Bill

10:20 AM, Dec 18, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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You heard it here first! On Dec. 9, Matt Continetti wondered if Burris might be the health-care wildcard. Looks like he remains undecided:

Burris, you'll recall, is one of the junior-most senators, having landed in the Senate shrouded in suspicion after being appointed by disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich. But reputation aside, his vote is one of the 60 that Democrats need to pass a bill. And he knows that, which is why he's vowing to turn the Democrats' 60 into 59, and not make cloture.

The only problem is that no one seems to have noticed. Burris hasn't gotten the front page treatment granted to Lieberman this week, nor will he. Reid's staff knows Burris's attempt at leverage is an empty one. When the final vote comes, Democrats-Burris included-will fall in line with the rest of the caucus.

That might not be the case, though, with more senior senators whose votes actually are at stake.

Burris will likely fall in line after some improvements are made, but it's fun to think about.

Meanwhile, Jim Webb is getting political heat over the fact that he'll likely vote for cloture but be given permission by leadership to vote against the final bill. Republicans delivered 5,000 petitions from the state to his office this week, saying he can't have it both ways with the people of Virginia.

His spokesman released a statement saying he is, as of now, "undecided:"

"Senator Webb has taken a number of tough votes in the last month-- always voting his conscience and without bowing to party politics. It is not surprising that he is being lobbied by interests on both sides of the aisle. Senator Webb has a reputation for being very deliberative and independent-minded. The fact that he has said he is undecided about this bill is not extraordinary. He reviews all legislation with great care and deliberation. During this debate, he has broken with his party six times, including four votes to prevent cuts in Medicare. At the same time, he appreciates that the need for health care reform is great. The status quo of our health care system burdens families and undermines the competitive position of American business."

How many of these undecideds are going to hold up in the face of this?

The President is "keeping score," but so are the American people.