Durbin: Health Care Has Been "Painful Politically"

Senator planning ways to prevent GOP obstruction after House vote

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    WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 9: U.S. Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) pauses during a news conference to discuss the foreclosure crisis and the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Capitol Hill December 9, 2008 in Washington, DC. Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by the FBI on federal corruption charges. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

    With the House's weekend vote on health care rapidly approaching, Sen. Dick Durbin told reporters at the University of Illinois at Chicago today that the process has taken a political toll.

    "We are hours away from an historic vote," Durbin said. "It has been painful politically -- poll numbers are down."

    While recalling his daughter's own health struggles -- she passed away a year ago -- Durbin admitted that the country has been split by the debate.

    "One flight attendant on a United flight last night said I hope you vote against it, another said I hope you vote for it," he said.

    Durbin voted to pass the Senate's version of the health care bill last year. If the House passes the reconciliation bill this weekend, the bill moves back to the Senate -- where Republicans have promised a de facto filibuster by proposing amendments and points of order.

    Durbin has been working to circumvent those efforts, but his tactics may have their own political consequences.