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Senators Vote To Tackle Health Care Bill

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, November 23, 2009 10:45 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Health Care Reform, Senate, Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman, Dick Durbin, Obama, Uninsured, Public Option

No Republicans voted this weekend whether to tackle debate on health reform.


IMAGE SOURCE: Washington Post Web site/ Sens. Durbin and Lieberman

Divisions Divide Senate

The big story this weekend- the U.S. Senate votes to open debate on a health care reform bill.

With no Republican votes, the 60-to-39 vote is the next step to passing a bill in the Senate which should begin after the Thanksgiving break.

Expanding health care to some 31 million Americans at no net cost to the federal government, the measure has some huge hurdles to clear such as access to abortion services, containing costs, and the largest and most controversial - a public option.

Unless a public option, a government-sponsored option to help the uninsured obtain health insurance, is left in, some Democratic Senators have said they will not cast their approval.

If Democrats can get 60 votes they can avoid a filibuster in the Senate, but even agreement on whether to debate the bill, just squeaked by.

One of the last to vote was Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. She had been promised more than $100 million to help her state, still crippled from Hurricane Katrina, pay for healthcare for the poor. She says more work on a health care bill needs to be done before she'll support it.

Sen. Bernard Sanders, an Independent of Vermont said in a statement, “While I voted to proceed to the health care legislation tonight, I have made it clear to the administration and Democratic leadership that my vote for the final bill is by no means guaranteed.”

The other Independent in the Senate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), reiterated Sunday that he will oppose any bill that contains a public option. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," he called such a government-run plan "radical."

Sen. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said he knows not all Senators in the Democratic caucus agree on every aspect of the bill.

“The road ahead will be the toughest stretch. But we have momentum and I will keep this process moving forward,” he said after the vote.

Speaking on the “Today” show, Sen. Charles Schumer says majority Democrats will push through a bill overhauling the health care system with or without Republican support, reports AP.

Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois has suggested lawmakers may have to cut short their holiday recess.

The New York Democrat accused GOP lawmakers of seeking to kill it and said "they haven't put any alternative on the floor."

President Obama has promised healthcare reform as a major component of his presidency and wants to have the issue wrapped up before the end of the year.

To accomplish that, the Senate will have to work on its version, then differences will have to be worked out with the House version of reform. #

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