It's been an epic week in health care, charged with unfavorable poll numbers, a sudden maverick move from Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), desertions from previously bill-friendly pundits, and a Senate-room slapdown when Al Franken stretched procedural duct tape over the troublesome mouth of Joe Lieberman (DI-CT). Where does this leave us heading into the holidays? Democrats have set a Christmas Eve deadline for passing health care reform: will an eleventh-hour vote save the besieged bill? Here are commentators' bets on how this drama is likely to play out:

  • This May Well Last Till Christmas Eve The Atlantic's Chris Good looks at Sen Jim DeMint's (R-SC) plans to exploit possible procedural delays: "This basically confirms that the GOP's strategy, in effect, is to fight Democratic health care reforms in every way they can." This could "mean Christmas Eve voting."
  • Even Christmas Eve is Optimistic, says Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler. "The Congressional Budget Office was supposed to weigh in on new changes to Senate health care legislation by early to mid-week," and hasn't yet. The schedule for a Christmas Eve deadline is tight as it is:

If the cost-estimate comes back tomorrow, aides say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could call an impromptu caucus meeting, present his "manager's amendment," along with new budget figures, to his members, and hope against hope that he receives signals from all remaining hold outs--including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)--that they'll vote to end a series of GOP health care filibusters.

If that doesn't happen, it's difficult to see how they'll be able to pass a health care bill by Christmas.

Aides have suggested privately that when Reid releases his manager's amendment to the media, it will be a sign that he has--or at least thinks he has--60 votes lined up to clear all of the remaining procedural hurdles. So that's the event we'll be awaiting tomorrow.

  • Ditto--It's Saturday Night that Matters "If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid," writes The American Spectator's Philip Klein, "hasn't secured 60 votes by midnight Saturday, he won't be able to meet the ambitious deadline of passing a health care bill on Christmas Eve." The 60 votes are needed for the crucial cloture vote early Monday morning.
  • Watch for Monday Morning Make or Break According to NBC's Ken Strickland's "rough outline of how the weekend should play out," the "most important health-care vote" will indeed, as Philip Klein also notes, come around 1 a.m. on Monday, the 21st:
While there will be other health care votes up until Christmas Eve, THIS VOTE WILL DETERMINE THE FATE OF THE SENATE HEALTH-CARE BILL. Here's why: The amendment will include all the last-minute fixes, most importantly stripping the public option and suitable abortion language. Once this part of the bill is passed, it's effectively done. If Reid gets 60 on this, the other votes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday should fall into place like dominoes.
  • Race Against Opinion Polls "President Obama and Democratic leaders," adds Bruce Drake at Politics Daily, "are not only in a race against time in their hopes of passing a health care reform bill by Christmas, they may be in a race against the trend of public opinion ... the latest tracking poll ... [shows] a turn for the negative on several indicators of how Americans are seeing the legislation."