By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 1/20/2010 10:52:05 AM ET 2010-01-20T15:52:05

Claim: The Massachusetts election Tuesday will persuade Democrats to scale back their insurance bill.

Republican Scott Brown won Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts, the first Republican to win a Senate election in that heavily Democratic state since 1972. Democrats have now lost their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate which had allowed them to pass a first version of insurance reform on Christmas Eve. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., who is up for re-election in November, said on Monday that if Democrat Martha Coakley lost "it's probably back to the drawing board on health care." But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected that idea. "There is no 'back to the drawing board,'" she insisted. The chance to overhaul health insurance "is the opportunity of a generation." Does Pelosi push on, or does she heed calls to retool the insurance legislation?

Fact or fiction?
Unclear. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday only 12 percent of respondents said health care should be the top priority for President Barack Obama and Congress. So Democrats might well question why they should spend even more time on this effort, after months of negotiations. On Tuesday night, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. warned against "a sense of arrogance" that would lead his party to try to push through an insurance bill no matter what voters said. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said, "It would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated." But retooling the legislation would present its own problems: how to re-negotiate a series of fragile compromises arrived at with interest groups and individual legislators over the past few months?

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