Health Care Bill Clears Crucial Senate Test

Dems hail first key step in 'historic victory'
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Dec 21, 2009 1:43 AM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2009 7:41 AM CST
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., greets Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., center, watches following a 60-40 cloture vote.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
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(Newser) – A filibuster strategy by Senate Republicans against the health care reform bill was shot down early this morning in a move that clearly signals the measure's likely passage before Christmas. The Senate voted 60-40 for cloture to short-circuit a GOP tactic aimed at killing a package of changes to the bill. "Let's make history," said Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin shortly before bill supporters flexed their muscle at 1am on the Senate floor. The vote ended hours of acrimonious debate and a race to get snowbound senators to the Capitol, which prompted GOP Sen. Tom Coburn at one point to ask Americans to pray "that somebody can't make the vote tonight."

Democrats hailed the vote as a harbinger of historic change for American health care, while Republicans characterized it as a sneak weekend attack amid a snowstorm on the road to a "historic mistake" that Democrats will pay for next election, reports the New York Times. Two other votes will take place this week, with the final vote scheduled for 7pm Christmas Eve. The Senate bill must then be reconciled with the House bill, which involves several key differences, including different restrictions on abortion and a public option for health care insurance.

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