Developments from the Bay State

As political junkies are no doubt aware, on Tuesday night Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy. To put it lightly, the special election results have been getting a lot of notice here in D.C.

Last Friday, we reported about a possible compromise deal on the excise tax in the proposed health care legislation. The compromise deal would provide some relief to federal workers worried about taxes on their health care plans, but doesn't give them the same delay which state and local government workers, as well as unionized private sector employees, would receive under the proposed compromise.

But with Tuesday's development, the status of that compromise -- as well as the excise tax and the whole health care bill -- is in limbo.

The idea behind the compromise deal is that the House would attach the changes to the Senate's bill and pass it, the Senate would pass the bill with the House's revisions, and then President Obama would sign the final version into law. But now that Democrats have lost a crucial 60th vote in the Senate, they're not going to be able to squeeze the same health care bill through the Senate a second time.

It could be that the House passes the Senate's bill -- leaving the excise tax unchanged from its earlier version. It could be that Congress tries to change the excise tax later through the reconciliation process. Or it could be that the health care bill is dead, and the excise tax dies with it. We'll just have to wait and see.