Why the Senate Health Bill Will Move at a Crawl
Dems will be lucky to get it through before xmas
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2009 4:55 AM CST
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faces a long slog to get the health bill through the Senate.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

(Newser) – The House version of the health bill galloped from introduction to passage in just 10 days, but the Senate's version won't be through until Christmas at the earliest. Suzy Khimm at the New Republic explains the reasons for the snail's pace.

  • The Senate has to vote on a “motion to proceed" before the bill hits the floor, and Harry Reid will need his 60 votes in the bag before that happens.

  • When the bill reaches the floor, Republicans can raise points of order if it violates any spending caps, forcing the Democrats to again muster 60 votes to go forward.
  • Debating amendments will then begin. Hot-button issues like immigration and abortion may prove logjams for debate. Reid may try to block the GOP from offering up too many amendments, making the Republicans likelier to filibuster or even read the 1,900-page bill aloud.
  • If the bill makes it past debate and the Democrats don't have 60 votes, Reid may use the reconciliation measure—or let the GOP filibuster around the clock.