Jewishupdates's Blog

December 21, 2009

Senate Advances Landmark Health Bill Early Monday Morning

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishupdates @ 12:30 pm

Senate Advances Landmark Health Bill Early Monday Morning

The Democratic Partys decades-long push to remake the U.S. health care system cleared a major hurdle early Monday morning, with the Senate voting to advance a massive $871 billion bill to extend coverage to nearly all Americans and tighten regulations on private insurers.

Less than two days after releasing a bill with 383 pages of changes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) corralled his politically diverse caucus and delivered the 60 votes necessary for the most crucial test vote in the legislative process so far – effectively assuring the reform package will clear the Senate later this week.

The final tally was a straight party-line vote, 60-40. All Democrats and two independents voted yes and all Republicans voted no – and each side bitterly accused the other of trying to thwart true reform through petty gamesmanship.

The senators voted just after 1 a.m. while seated at their desks, a rarely used practice implemented only for historic votes.

If the Senate passes the bill as expected – after two more procedural votes this week and a final vote set for 7 p.m. December 25th – House and Senate negotiators will begin the arduous process of melding two substantially different bills. Democrats are optimistic they can reach a final compromise, but that is by no means assured.

And within minutes of the vote, two of the final Democratic holdouts, Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.) were already threatening to withhold their votes if the bill drifts closer to the House bill, which includes a public health insurance option and different ways to pay for reform.

Monday’s vote to continue with debate presented the clearest threat yet to the bill. Most senators viewed the vote – even though it was a procedural motion – as a vote on the bill itself. This left Reid with no margin for error, forcing him to strike a compromise that would appeal to a self-described Socialist from Vermont (Sen. Bernie Sanders), an increasingly conservative Independent from Connecticut (Lieberman) and every Democrat in between.

Until Reid secured Nelson’s support late Friday night, the bill was in doubt.

But after nearly a year of discussion and debate on health reform, there was little suspense about the final outcome of the early-morning vote. One by one, wavering Democrats announced their intentions to vote yes – just as every single Republican announced plans to vote no.

(Source: Politico)


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