Jeff Merkeley (D-OR)

Reid has evidently decided to push a vote on health care past the August recess, something that Republicans, Joe Lieberman and Blue Dogs have been urging.

In the mean time, Freshman Democrats in the Senate are backing Max Baucus’s "bipartisan" plan which reportedly has no public plan:

While the Senate leadership, President Obama, Senate liberals and House Democrats continue to express impatience with Baucus’s efforts to forge a deal with Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other Republicans on a healthcare reform package, these freshman senators offered their backing of the process and the issues Baucus is pursuing.

We applaud you and Sen. Grassley for your continued work and dedication toward a bipartisan effort," a letter from the freshmen to Baucus says. "We stand ready to serve and to help you and the Senate Finance Committee to craft a bill that bends the healthcare cost curve, provides affordable coverage, and rewards value-added services."

Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Roland Burris (Ill.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Mark Warner (Va.) signed the letter.

Baucus has been courting the freshmen in recent weeks, hosting meetings with groups of them in his office in between his negotiating sessions with Grassley, Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Republican Sens. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Grassley.

The freshman senators, like Obama and the centrist Blue Dog Democrats in the House, place special emphasis on urging Baucus to come up with policies to reduce long-term healthcare spending.

Contrary to how others are interpreting it, I actually think Pelosi is saying she is willing to stay — it’s all a function of what happens with Energy and Commerce. They House can still vote on the bill next week.

But Merkely — WTF?

Mike Stark will be delivering our petition to the House asking them to stay during August next week, so please sign it and forward it to your friends.