Senate Democrats united in a key procedural vote to push the chamber's health care reform package a step closer to their goal of getting a final bill approved by Christmas.


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Senate edges closer to final OK for health reform bill

December 21st, 2009

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats united in a key procedural vote to push the chamber's health care reform package a step closer to their goal of getting a final bill approved by Christmas.

In a 60-40 roll call vote early Monday, the Senate's Democrats assembled the support they needed to thwart a potential Republican filibuster and complete the first of three procedural motions to cut off debate and move the health reform bill to a final vote by Christmas Eve or sooner.

The vote was seen as a key test for the Senate's majority party, with the chamber's 58 Democrats drawing the support of two Independents to overcome staunch Republican opposition and move forward a critical piece of legislation for the platform of the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama.

“Today, the Senate took another historic step toward our goal of delivering access to quality, affordable health care to all Americans," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said in a statement on the vote.

"Our manager's amendment makes a good bill even better. The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that the revisions we've made to our bill cut the deficit by $132 billion dollars in the next 10 years while providing health care to an additional 31 million Americans. This amendment also helps to promote choice and competition to drive down skyrocketing health care costs for families in Nevada and all across America," Reid commented, adding that his party "is committed to passing health legislation this week."

Earlier this month, senior Senate Democrats reached an accord on one of the health reform bill's biggest obstacles, a public health insurance option, and had come to a consensus on the Senate's health care overhaul proposal, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Final passage of the Senate health bill, which published reports said could come as late as Thursday night on Christmas Eve, requires only a simple majority. But next up starting Tuesday are two more procedural votes, each of which requires 60 votes.

Once the Senate pushes through its proposal, it must be melded with the health care reform bill passed by the House last month before Congress can present a final health care reform package for Obama to sign into law.

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