Democrats couldn’t eliminate the tax on union members’ high-cost insurance policies altogether but did put off the effective date until 2018, but only for labor agreements and state and local government workers.

And that seems sure to open up Democrats to charges that it took yet another behind-closed-doors bargaining session with a powerful interest group to close the deal on health reform.

But for a day at least, the White House could claim a significant victory on the road toward passing a health care reform bill, with a deal that averts a standoff on one of the most contentious issues standing in the way of a final compromise.