In no small part, Democrats' openness to compromise springs from their experiences back home during the August recess.
One clear lesson was that people on all sides of the issue feel passionately about it. Long after cable news coverage waned, lawmakers drew huge, often rowdy audiences.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) held a conference call on healthcare for constituents and an hour into it, 2,000 people were still listening. Rep. Baron P. Hill (D-Ind.) was engulfed in thunderous cheers and boos at a basketball arena. A fistfight broke out at an event held by Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.).
On Tuesday, lawmakers will get down to business in the Capitol: Party leaders will be meeting with the rank and file behind closed doors to decide on strategy. A bipartisan group of six Senate Finance Committee members who have been seeking a compromise will hold another meeting in advance of their self-imposed Sept. 15 deadline for reaching a deal.