Washington (CNN) – Senate Republicans - who had vowed to keep the Senate in session late on Christmas Eve, and possibly even Christmas Day - relented Tuesday and agreed to a final vote on health care legislation at 8 am on Thursday, Dec. 24.
Their decision comes after losing several key votes to Democrats that signaled the health care overhaul would eventually pass the Senate.
"There were extensive conversations about how do we keep the time we need to expose the deficiencies of this bill and, of course, the sweetheart deals that produced it, but yet show respect to people and their families, let them get home at least in time for Christmas Eve," Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said in a CNN interview.
The early vote would also allow senators to flee Washington ahead of a developing winter storm out West. One GOP source said travel plans of about half the Republicans in the Senate were threatened by the looming snowstorm.
A collective sigh of relief could be heard from senators and staff across the Capitol as word spread the final vote would be 11 hours earlier than anticipated. Even some GOP senators who strongly oppose the health bill acknowledged they didn't want to spend Christmas in DC.
One of them, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told CNN Radio she hoped to make the long journey home in time to attend midnight Mass with her family. "I am who I am because of my family," she said.
Republican leaders pointed to a consolation prize of sorts, an agreement they secured from Democrats to hold a debate and vote on the politically thorny issue of increasing the nation's debt limit right around the same time as President Obama's State of the Union address.
But that was not enough for conservative Erick Erickson of the blog RedState. "Mitch McConnell surrenders," he tweeted.
"show respect to people and their families, let them get home at least in time for Christmas Eve," Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said in a CNN interview.
So 40 Republican Senators can't do the job they were hired to do, namely come up with a republican (or bi-partisan) version of health care reform in time to go home for the holidays and do SOMETHING besides SAY NO to everything.
If you did your job the way you expect our troops to do their's, many of them might be home for the holidays too instead of serving in war zones with no end in sight.
Think about them while you enjoy YOUR holiday festivities and remember their sacrificees when it comes time for you to go back to work in Washington.....then, maybe you might actually get something accomplished for the good of the country.
Even the GOP knows better than to be the Grinch that stole Christmas!
I'm shedding big crocodile tears for the senators' worries about getting home for Christmas.
How many solders in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world are getting a Christmas break to fly home to spend the holidays with their families?
We sent these clowns there to work! Hey let these jerks know that there are companies out there MAKING there employees work Christmas Day and my wife has no choice. If it is that important to them then they should stop with the parlimentary games and vote!!
Just think about all the men and women in the military who will not be home for Christmas .... and the 4,000 + who will never be home for Christmas again. Sorry ... not much sympathy for these congress critters ... especially those who relished delaying the bill with every obscure procedure possible ...
The revolution that began on April 15th, reached a crescendo on Christmas Eve and will reach its climax in November when the libertards are all booted out of the offices SEIU/ACORN helped them steal. Then we go after the big traitor, hopefully we can impeach him prior to 2012. The libs, just don't understand the anger.
I say let them stay. Make them suffer like the Americans without health insurance they care so little about. I think the Dems should delay the vote until New Years with the same tactics the Repubes used to delay it this long. They don't deserve to go home for the holidays.
The Senate has had sweetheart deals for over 200 years. That is how the system works and that is how bills get passed. Every party participates in it. It is a matter of positioning and then bargaining. I am aghast that the Republicans are flabbergasted at this bargaining, since they are just as much masters at it as every other person in Congress. Sen. Graham doesn't complain when he brings home the pork for SC, but he is complaining now. He could have had his own piece of bacon if he participated in saving the US health care system from certain catastrophy. It's another bubble about to burst.
The dems made a huge mistake pushing this bill through congress without a single republican vote. They went against the will of the people. Dems will suffer in the next election. Mark my words!
What a bunch of hot air from the GOP. The GOP is so concerned about this bill untill it upsets their Christmas plans. The party of no is now the party of me.
All the Dems have to do is keep the GOP in 24-7 and they cave. Remember the GOP Senator who said prayer was the answer that one member would not make the vote? Well it worked one of the GOP Senators did not make the vote.
Way to go GOP
and i can only guess, they relented so they could go on vacation!
the Republicans suck BIG TIME! thanks for nothing, and Merry Christmas to your families with health care!
I can't believe the Republicans have a heart. thought they were like Scrooge. Happy Holidays to All!!!
What the Replicans have been doing is virtually legal criminality if you ask me. Glad they have decided to throw in the towel and stop fighting.
Change is inevitable. People have suffered enough from corporation greed and hunger for power. I hope Republicans can now change their attitude to help shape the health care reform bill, instead of saying NO all the way.
its gonna save money right? its gonna cover more people right? its gonna increase the quality of care right? its gonna cut the deficit right? this is why they are doing it right? this is what they are telling us right? sounds great to ME! just one question..... why doesn't it start until 2014???? I mean the coverage of course because I know we start paying for it immediately. but coverage for these poor poor dying souls doesn't start until 2014. truth is its not about any of those things and if your for this your either stupid or a radical socialist who is aiming for government take over of 1/6 of this nations economy. I personally think the bulk of you our stupid!
A snow storm isn't the only thing looming for Senate republicans! Karma is real!
OBoy is this a bunch of sour grapes. If they can't stop it they can mess with the deomcrates . Is this the kind of childish thugs we want governing our country???
ha! the republicans held out just long enough until it was inconvenient. way to show your ragged red moral fiber!
why do dems always compromise with the gop? you should've called their bluff
The Republicans finally realized the game is over. They were intent on calling a timeout down by 3 TD's with only 10 seconds to go or fouling the other team down by 15 with a minute to go. All you are doing is delaying the inevitable.
Also for all of you slamming the Bill, how can slam something without knowing the effect. We won't know the effect until years to come. Until then we all have to withhold judgment; even those who support the bill.
None of us our experts in this matter so relax and enjoy Christmas!!