Senate Approves Historic Health Care Bill

Harry Reid gets exactly the 60 votes he needs
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2009 6:21 AM CST
Updated Dec 24, 2009 7:28 AM CST
Senate Majority Leader of Harry Reid, D-Nev., center, accompanied by Senate Democrats, speaks during a health care news conference on Capitol Hill, Dec. 23, 2009.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – The Senate voted to close debate and approve the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care" act today, better known as the health care reform bill, garnering exactly the 60 votes they needed to pass it, to 39 nay votes, all along partisan lines. Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold, the potential liberal holdouts, both voted yes, with Sanders, called last, giving a thumbs up. Harry Reid however accidentally blurted out "no" when his name was called, but he quickly and frantically waved off the mistake and voted in the affirmative, breaking up the rather sober proceedings.

The bill's passage marks the first Christmas Eve Senate session in more than 50 years. Joe Biden presided over the proceedings, bringing down the gavel to announce the bill's passage. "We stand on the doorstep of history," Reid said before the vote, "More importantly, we stand so close to making so many individual lives better." Next up will be tense negotiations with the House and White House that could take months. But Reid wouldn't talk about that, saying he would for now go to Nevada and enjoy the holiday. "I am going to just sit back and watch my rabbits eat my cactus."

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