Perfect. Why stop with the letter, though? The next logical step in this procedural clusterfark after Slaughter’s gambit is to go ahead and make the voting secret too. Just give us the roll — 217-214 in this case, undoubtedly — and leave it to our esteemed representatives to identify themselves if they like. I wonder if that’d be constitutional.

I’ll bet Pelosi’s wondered too.

The letter has caused some hand-wringing among Democratic senators in recent days, not so much because they don’t support the bill – although skeptical House members would disagree – but senators are notoriously reluctant to publicly commit to something before they absolutely must. Senators like to preserve their leverage.

But a binding commitment is exactly what House Democrats have sought…

Asked whether Reid has been able to round up 51 signatures, [Reid spokesman Jim] Manley was coy.

“We will have done what the house has requested,” Manley said.

Initially they weren’t even going to release the letter, but Dingy, in his infinite wisdom, decided that redacting the names would be good enough. I’m not sure what they’re accomplishing by doing that, though: If one or more of the 50 signatories stabs the House in the back by bailing on reconciliation, the name(s) will surely be leaked. They’re not avoiding any headaches from the public by doing this either. The calls and e-mails to all Democratic senators will skyrocket next week regardless. At this point, you could probably figure out who signed it simply by process of elimination. Subtract 41 Republicans, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, maybe Pryor and Landrieu, and you’re already in the ballpark.

Tantalizing exit question: Is the reason they’re not releasing the names because … there aren’t quite 50 yet?

Update: Ah, missed this part from the Roll Call link. Here’s a confidence-builder:

And one Senate Democratic source indicated that Reid had not yet been able to round up the 51 signatures he needed to provide the assurance that the Senate would be able to pass the reconciliation measure. However, the source cautioned that the inability to get 51 votes was not because Reid didn’t have personal commitments from 51 or more Senators, but because many Democratic Senators are squeamish about sticking their necks out before the House has passed the bill.

“You go first!” “No, you go first!” “No, you go…”