November 21st, 2009
08:22 PM ET
4 years ago

Senate health care bill clears key hurdle

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate voted 60-39 Saturday night to proceed with a floor debate on Majority Leader Harry Reid's $848 billion health care bill.

The successful vote to prevent a Republican filibuster against starting debate broke down along strict party lines. All 58 Senate Democrats – along with Independent Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont – supported bringing the measure to the floor. Thirty-nine of the 40 Senate Republicans opposed the motion. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, didn't vote.

A minimum of 60 votes is required to break a filibuster in the 100-member body. The outcome of the vote was unclear before Saturday afternoon, when Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, announced her support for a full chamber debate on health care reform - the top issue on President Barack Obama's domestic agenda.

Lincoln, a key moderate likely facing a tough reelection campaign in 2010, said the issue deserved further debate and consideration. She made clear in remarks on the Senate floor, however, that she opposes several aspects of Reid's bill, including a controversial government-run public option. "Although I don't believe with everything in this bill, I believe it is important to begin debate," Lincoln said. "The issue is very complex. There is no easy fix."

Two other Democratic moderates whose support was considered to be in doubt - Nebraska's Ben Nelson and Louisiana's Mary Landrieu - also announced their decision to back a full debate shortly before the vote.

The procedural vote was a significant victory for Reid and the Obama administration. The House of Representatives narrowly passed a more than $1 trillion health care bill earlier this month. If the Senate manages to pass a bill, a congressional conference committee would need to merge the House and Senate proposals into a consensus version requiring final approval from each chamber before moving to Obama's desk to be signed into law.


Filed under: Health care
November 21st, 2009
08:19 PM ET
4 years ago

Senate health care bill clears key hurdle

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate voted 60-39 Saturday night to proceed with a floor debate on Majority Leader Harry Reid's $848 billion health care bill.

The successful vote to prevent a Republican filibuster against starting debate broke down along strict party lines. All 58 Senate Democrats - along with Independent Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont - supported bringing the measure to the floor. Almost all of the 40 Senate Republicans opposed the motion.

A minimum of 60 votes is required to break a filibuster in the 100-member body.


Filed under: Health care
November 21st, 2009
03:01 PM ET
4 years ago

Palin slams Senate health care vote

Sarah Palin weighed in on the health care debate Friday night.
Sarah Palin weighed in on the health care debate Friday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN)– Revisiting some of her campaign trail talking points, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin weighed in on the Senate health care vote, criticizing the Democrats and Majority Leader Harry Reid for a lack of transparency.

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing for yet another weekend vote (commonplace now for the party of "transparency") because he knows that the American people will be none too happy about the Democrats' proposal the longer they have to look it over," Palin wrote late Friday night in a posting on her Facebook page.

Republicans, who have expressed opposition to the Democrats' bill from the beginning, have threatened to read the full 2,074 page bill during Senate debate, claiming the more Americans hear about what is in the bill, the less they will like it.

Palin went on to talk about features in the bill: government spending, abortion, and help for special needs children.

"While this Saturday night vote might seem like a procedural matter, at the end of the day a vote against Senator Reid's motion is a vote against massive new government spending and a take-over of 1/6th of the U.S. economy; it's a vote against billions in tax increases and penalties; it's a vote against federal funding of abortion; and it's a vote against ignoring responsible tort reform," Palin wrote. "Among the provisions in this bill will be a $2,500 cap on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). The IRS allows families with special needs children to use FSAs to cover educational expenses. This new $2,500 cap will hit these families especially hard and cost them hundreds of dollars in new taxes every year."

Palin concluded by encouraging Americans to voice their opposition to their senators before the vote.
"The American people don't support this – we support the commonsense solutions that have been proposed, but totally ignored by (at this point) some out-of-control Washington politicians. Let's put a stop to Obamacare before it goes any further," she wrote.


Filed under: Sarah Palin
November 21st, 2009
02:35 PM ET
4 years ago

Senate Democrats assured of 60 votes to debate health bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Democrat Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas said Saturday she will support bringing the Senate health care reform bill to the floor for debate, giving Democrats the 60 votes they need to prevent a Republican filibuster.

"Although I don't agree with everything in this bill, I believe it is important to begin this debate," she said. "This issue is very complex. There is no easy fix," she said in making her announcement on the Senate floor, just hours before Saturday night's 8 p.m. procedural vote.

Earlier Saturday, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, became the 59th lawmaker to agree to vote for debate.


Filed under: Health care
November 21st, 2009
01:01 PM ET
4 years ago

UPDATE: Landrieu says she'll back health bill debate

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said Saturday she has decided to support a floor debate on the Senate's health care reform bill.

But she added a caveat on the floor of the Senate: "My vote today to move forward on this important debate should in no way be construed by the supporters of this current framework as an indication of how I might vote as this debate comes to an end.

HAPPENING NOW: Click her to watch the debate live

"It is a vote to move forward to continue the good and essential and important and imperative work that is under way."

Sixty votes are needed to move the controversial bill to the floor for discussion. The legislative body is expected to vote Saturday night. The only senator who has not publicly announced how she will vote on the debate question is Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

–CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.


Filed under: Health care
November 21st, 2009
12:50 PM ET
November 21st, 2009
12:43 PM ET
4 years ago

Landrieu to back health bill debate

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana on Saturday said she has decided to support a floor debate on the Senate's health care reform bill, according to two Democratic sources.

Sixty votes are needed to move the controversial bill to the floor for discussion. The legislative body is expected to vote Saturday night.

Landrieu had said she's concerned about the bill's costs to small businesses and individuals, and is opposed to a public health insurance option "that will undermine the private insurance market."


Filed under: Health care
November 21st, 2009
12:12 PM ET
4 years ago

GOP reiterates health care displeasure


WASHINGTON (CNN)– As the Senate debates the first of many important health care votes Saturday, Republican Sen. Mike Crapo reiterated his party's displeasure with the bill, in the weekly Republican radio and Web address.

"This 2,000-page bill will drive up the cost of health care insurance and medical care, not down, increase taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars, cut Medicare for senior citizens by hundreds of billions of dollars, grow the federal government by over $2.4 trillion in new spending, push the needy uninsured into a failing Medicaid system, impose a damaging unfunded mandate on our struggling states, leave millions of Americans uninsured, and establish a massive governmental intrusion into management of our health care economy," the Senator from Idaho said. "This is not true health care reform and this is not what the American people want."

Outlining the Republican plan, Crapo emphasized the importance of helping small businesses get affordable health insurance, educating Americans on how to make healthy choices, and allowing people to purchase insurance outside of their own state.

Crapo also encouraged American's to get online and read the bill for themselves.


Filed under: GOP weekly address
November 21st, 2009
12:11 PM ET
November 21st, 2009
10:05 AM ET
4 years ago

Senate vote next step on what could be a long road for health care


(CNN) – If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has his way, his chamber will vote Saturday to proceed with debate on its version of the health care bill.

If he's successful, Senate Democrats can breathe a sigh of a relief momentarily - but it's too early for them to celebrate. The road to final passage of health care legislation is still long and bumpy.

Reid needs 60 votes for the procedural vote this weekend, another 60 votes to close debate - which could last for weeks - but only 51 for final passage. Reid has said he hopes to vote on the final bill before the end of the year. President Obama's original deadline for Congress was last August.

The House passed its version of health care reform two weeks ago, with 220 representatives voting in favor and 215 against. Thirty-nine Democrats opposed the plan and one Republican supported it.

But it's a tougher fight for Democrats in the Senate, where it is much easier for the GOP minority to stifle the will of the Democratic majority.

Full story


Filed under: Health care
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