November 21st, 2009
08:22 PM ET
13 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
soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Barrie O. Ward

    As a Canadian who has so many advantages oiver the average American in almost every aspect of living ... Good Luck chums ... if you don't get universal medicare for everyone that is totally removed from the "For-Profit" sector you are truly going to be a country on the backside of your better days. The rest of the industrialized world is not 'Crazy with Socialism' – the rest of the industrialized world just realizes that you cannot continue to feed the 'economic royalty' while the mass of citizen/peasants sicken and die.

    November 22, 2009 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  2. jersey boyz

    let's go!!!!!

    November 22, 2009 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  3. Shelly CO

    We, the people, voted for this Congress and President to provide better health care for all is about time our Nation lived up to its values of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. You cannot have these values without good health!

    November 22, 2009 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  4. Liz

    Sounds just like Palin.... (yawn...)

    November 22, 2009 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  5. Richie

    I"m glad, but sad. We need single payer. That is the only system that has any hope of covering all citizens without bankrupting the country. 35% overhead is too high. This health bill will only increase that by adding more bureaucracy. How did the health insurance companies become the good guy that needs our protection?

    November 22, 2009 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  6. Jim

    What this article fail to say is how they got those last three votes......Hairy ahd to pay the Lady from La 300 million dollars of your tax money to get her to vote yes...Who knows what the other two states got !! Dumb A%& !!!

    November 22, 2009 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
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