That speech will likely occur in late January or early February.
Once the Senate passes the bill, which is widely expected to take place tomorrow morning, the action moves to conference committee. That's where the House and Senate versions of the bill are reconciled. Once a final bill is hammered out, both chambers must then vote on the combined bill before it goes to the president for his signature.
But this work won't begin immediately. The House does not return until January 12th from its winter break, and the Senate does not return until January 18th. The Congressional Budget Office will also need to spend at least a week to calculate the cost of the compromise the bill before lawmakers vote on it.
Among the issues likely to complicate the conference process is abortion. The House and Senate versions of the bill both include restrictions on abortion coverage, but the House language is more strict: An amendment in the legislation prohibits women from using federal subsidies on health care plans that cover abortions, and also restricts any public plan from covering abortion.
The Senate plan, by contrast, does allow women who are subsidized by the government to enroll in plans that cover abortions, though they would have to pay for the abortion coverage separately.
With both abortion rights supports and opponents in both chambers taking strong positions on the issue, crafting compromise language acceptable to a sufficient number of lawmakers will likely be a challenge.
In general, because the 60-vote coalition supporting the bill in the Senate leaves no room for error, the compromise bill is widely expected to track more closely to the Senate version than the House version.
But since there is a large block of House Democrats who would oppose the bill if they are displeased with the abortion language, negotiators will likely not be able to simply largely adopt the Senate bill's handling on that particular issue.
There is some good news for the White House, however, when it comes to the overall bill: Democrats in the more-liberal House are signaling that they will largely accept the Senate version, a fact that should make the conference process less difficult.
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