Senators Keep Health Bill’s Christmas Eve Timeline On Track
Senators cast the second of three procedural votes Tuesday morning to end debate on the Senate's health care reform bill, keeping alive their timeline of passing the reform on Christmas Eve Thursday. Senators voted 60-39 to accept the manager's amendment around 8 a.m. Tuesday, clearing the way for one remaining procedural vote Wednesday and a final vote on the legislation Thursday.
Roll Call reports that the Senate remains on track to adjourn by Christmas Eve after a 7 p.m. vote. "The Senate passed its first cloture motion on the health care bill early Monday morning, voting 60-40 along party lines to beat back a filibuster of the manager's amendment. Three cloture motions must be approved in order to steer the health care bill to final passage. The Tuesday morning vote marks the second in that series, with the third expected Wednesday afternoon" (Brady, 12/21).
The Washington Post reports that the timeline means that staffers and even senators might be spending the holiday with each other instead of their families. "The chamber has never been in session on Dec. 25, (a Senate historian) said - not even during the 1700s and early 1800s, when senators remained in Washington through the winter because there was no easy transportation to and from their states."
"Republicans have been quick to cast Democratic leaders as grinches calling for votes so close to Christmas. Of course, the Senate may have already finished its business were it not for GOP delay tactics, such as Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) demanding last week that the clerk read aloud a 767-page amendment" (Rucker, 12/22).
The Hill reports that Republicans may be signaling that they could allow the vote before Dec. 24, but "that seems unlikely given that their entire conference would have to agree. Each vote could take place earlier if the Senate unanimously agrees to do so. Since just one senator could force the full debate to be dragged out, it's still likely that the vote will take place Thursday" (Alarkon, 12/21).
The Boston Globe: "After a decisive vote at 1 a.m. yesterday, it is seen as just a matter of time before Democrats pass the health care bill, which would extend coverage to more than 31 million people. Democrats are hailing the proposal as the most important domestic initiative since Social Security and Medicare, and they have the 60 votes they need to pass it this week" (Wangsness, 12/22).