Senate Readies for Thursday Morning Vote on Health Care Reform
On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that they had reached an agreement to hold a final vote on the chamber's health care reform bill (HR 3590) on Thursday at 8 a.m., instead of the originally scheduled time of 7 p.m., The Hill reports (Young, The Hill, 12/22).
According to the New York Times' "Prescriptions," the agreement "will allow the Republicans to say that they pushed the vote right up to Christmas Eve without having to ruin the holiday travel plans of senators and their aides -- not to mention the staff in the Capitol" (Herszenhorn, "Prescriptions," New York Times, 12/22).
The agreement comes after Senate Democrats proved twice over in earlier procedural votes that they have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster, "meaning passage is all but assured Thursday," according to The Hill (The Hill, 12/22).
The Senate will hold a cloture vote on Wednesday afternoon to end debate on the bill, after which point the Senate Republican Caucus has agreed to not use all of the 30 hours of debate time allowed after a filibuster has been cut off ("Prescriptions," New York Times, 12/22).
The final vote on Thursday will need a simple majority for the bill to pass (Werner/Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/23).
As part of the deal reached Tuesday, Reid has agreed to allow for a vote on a $290 billion short-term debt limit bill (HR 4314) immediately following the health care vote (Edney, CongressDaily, 12/22).
Party Unity, Division
Senate Democrats "remained united in favor" of the health reform bill, while Republicans "remained united in opposition" as the legislation took another step toward final passage after a Tuesday morning vote on a package of amendments, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, each party is saying that "the other would be on the wrong side of history" (Herszenhorn/Pear, New York Times, 12/23).
CQ Today reports that some Senate Republicans have been "slightly flummoxed in recent days over how much of Christmas week to consume in a largely symbolic battle against the legislation." There was a growing divide between members of the GOP who wanted to delay a vote as long as possible and those who wanted to give senators and their staffs time to return home (Ota, CQ Today, 12/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.