For all the talk of bipartisanship that you will be hearing on Thursday, the simple fact is that the health care bill, if it passes, will get to the President's desk on Democratic votes alone. The fate of the legislation very much hinges on whether the House Speaker can convince 217 members of her caucus to vote for the Senate-passed version of the bill.
As it stands, the bill could not pass her caucus, the Speaker has said. But the legislation that Obama proposed on Monday nudges the Senate bill to the left in ways that would make it more acceptable to the House. Most important is the scaling-back of the "Cadillac tax" on high-priced insurance policies. That change as well as the others outlined in the Obama plan would be accomplished on a second piece of legislation, which would be put before both houses under a controversial procedure misnamed "reconciliation." It would require only 51 votes, rather than the 60 it typically takes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
So keep an eye on Pelosi what she says, her body language, what ideas she brings to the table. Does she sound confident? Combative? Determined? And what is the dynamic like between Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid? Therein may lie the clues as to whether this conference will lead anywhere at all.