Sen. Bob Casey Jr. this morning attended the East Room ceremony where President Barack Obama signed the Senate's health care reform bill, with much fanfare, lofty rhetoric, and even a bit of profanity from the vice president. Now the Pennsylvania Democrat is back to the rough and tumble land of the Senate, which is going through a series of procedural votes this afternoon to kick off the debate on the 51-vote reconciliation package of changes to the Senate bill.
In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Casey said attending the White House ceremony -- Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., was there, too -- was a "great honor" and that he gave Obama a letter from one of his constituents, Trisha Urban, whose sad story Casey has often cited during the reform debate. Back on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, he's ready to deal with the Republican assault on the reconciliation bill, which likely will come in the form of a series of proposed amendments to force Democrats into tough votes.
"They want to play games and play political games in terms of what happens here in Washington," Casey said. "I'll have a lot of 'no' votes this week – even on things that I like, even on things that I favor very strongly."
If the reconciliation bill changes at all it must return to the House, where passage is always a heavy lift. Casey said he was confident the bill will get done this week "but it could be a long week."