Eyeing cloture

EYEING CLOTURE…. Given the stakes and the margins, every little signal seems to matter.

[Harry] Reid’s efforts got a boost Friday when two key Senate moderates signaled that that they were not inclined to block him.

“I conveyed to Leader Reid that a number of moderates still were extremely concerned about a government-run, taxpayer-funded, national public plan,” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said in a statement after meeting with Reid. “However, I am encouraged that the conversations taking place over the past week among Senators who back different versions of a public option could potentially lead to a compromise. I believe this compromise should happen sooner, rather than later, so we can get to work on other critical aspects of heath care reform.”

An aide to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said that, while the senator does not favor a public option with a state exemption, he would not vote to filibuster the bill. This would put Reid closer to the 60-vote threshold.

Landrieu’s ongoing confusion over what a public option is notwithstanding, these signals are encouraging. Up until fairly recently — as in, a few days ago — Landrieu and Lieberman were two of the senators who were most likely to side with Republicans on blocking consideration of the bill. Now, Landrieu is feeling “encouraged” about a compromise, and Lieberman is unlikely to side with GOP obstructionism.

This follows Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) recent observation: “I don’t think you’ll see me or any other Democrats” support a Republican filibuster.

I’m actually starting to feel optimistic. Of course, I’d feel better still if Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Blanche Lincoln, and Kent Conrad would express similar sentiments.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.