November 21st, 2009
08:22 PM ET
12 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. Rogan

    So much for Joe Lieberman's word – oh, but he'd already shown that he was a turncoat, hadn't he.

    November 21, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  2. phoenix86

    So the disgrace in Congress that began in 2006 continues unabated.

    November 21, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  3. Alaskim

    Thank you Senate Democrats. Now move this bill along and lets get health insurance reform done this year. We voted for change and now is the time.

    November 21, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. Gary

    Republicans have NO credibility. They are opposed to anything Democrats propose. After it looks like Health Care will finally pass, they think we should start over and have a bipartisan bill. They are a little late, but could still be part of the process.
    Democrats = HOPE
    Republicans = NO HOPE & NO CREDITABILITY

    November 21, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. Indiana Voter

    After reading all the comments on this site by all the liberal democrats, it is clear that they are so confident in themselves and their leaders that they will blindly follow them over a cliff. Fortunately for the country, there are still some senators, even Democrats, in the senate, that will never allow this thing to pass and become law, knowing it will hurt the country more than help. It is okay to debate it. I would much rather have a very long debate and get out all the hidden little secrets in this bill so the American people see what congress is trying to pass. I think the longer the debate, the less support there will be from senators and the American people. Even if they pass something, they will have to negotiate again and congress will start the voting over again.

    November 21, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  6. Navy Vet

    Good, I'll be watching the debate on CSPAN.

    November 21, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  7. lynne

    Who cares what she thinks? She's a ding bat.

    November 21, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  8. michael GA.

    "We don't have a moment to spare," America hopefully will once again be one of the greatest country’s in the world.
    I have 4 sisters and two brothers living my oldest brother died on sept 22 2006 he was a litunant colonel in he us air force
    He was a chaplain, he work at the pentagon on the day territories hit our country on September the 11 2001. ever one of us have health care and we all suport this BILL...

    November 21, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  9. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    I am proud of the democrats. You are the best!

    November 21, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  10. Ray Fisher

    Both parties are huge disappointments, from Dems complicating the simple to Republicans obstructing everything, Our nation is doomed!!!! What happened to a balanced budget, ending the wars, jobs???

    November 21, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. Mickey

    Now the Dems just have to cram the rest right down the Republicans pie hole...

    Remember the Bush quote: You are either with us or you are against us.

    Why are the Republicans AGAINST us? The GOP better use this reform to reform themselves, or they are in for a rocky road ahead.

    GOP: Evolve or die...

    November 21, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  12. I am the flacid and powerless wizard of Rush

    Elections have consequences. Those who whine on the right are like drunks asking for the car keys again.

    What's so un-democratic about an "up or down" vote on health care reform?

    November 21, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  13. Brit

    Get this. The MAJORITY of Americans voted Democrat. The
    MAJORITY of Americans voted for President Obama. The MAJORITY
    of Americans WANT healthcare reform.

    The republicans, teabaggers, Rush, Hanity, Palin DON't speak for
    the MAJORITY of Americans.

    The MAJORITY of us Americans NOW speak for ourselves.

    Bravo Democrats, who care for the MAJORITY of Americans.

    November 21, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  14. charlie in Maine


    November 21, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  15. Kate

    Wait a minute. I thought Sarah Palin slammed it?

    November 21, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  16. John from California

    Of course the republicans voted against reform, they want to keep their friends and contributors in the insurance industry happy.

    The managed care insurance industry and the pill pusher industry are sucking the economic life out of middle class America. The republican party with their "you can have all the health care you can afford" attitude has shown that they don't care about the majority of Americans.

    Why would the majority of Americans ever vote for a republican again?

    November 21, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  17. Steve

    Hurrah for democracy, a chance to debate the most critical issuse in America today. Amazing it was such a close vote.

    November 21, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  18. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    What are republican congressmen going to do when the American People learn they have been lied to by these GOP obstructionists?

    November 21, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  19. jojo

    Congradulations for the vote.All americans need health care they deserve without discrimination of being poor nor rich.
    Thanks dems

    November 21, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. demsrulz

    Now matter how hard they try the can't stop us now! All the republicans scare tactics on the ignorant shall be called out and disproved through a logical and factual debate... That's what they are truly afraid of.... Remember repugs... Not the vast majority are not afraid of progress as nearly as much as you... What a bunch a sissies... No wonder they all feel the need to strap on gun... The very people who usually shoots themselves in the foot..

    November 21, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  21. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    Is it true that 70% of the people from Arkansas get their news from the "Extreme Media" of Fox? That may explain Lincoln's senate race.

    November 21, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  22. william fitzwater

    I am happy to sre this pass. The biggest miracle is yet to come and that is seeing this pass the Senate.

    November 21, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  23. Peter s

    Way to go Democrates! doing nothing is not a solution!!. Its a shame USA lags behind when it comes to healthcare!!

    November 21, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  24. Independant Vet

    Hurry , Hurry , get Obama to sign this Bill. So the Elderly can start lining up for there death sencene. While the Democrats are signing there burial terms. An the Illegals an Terrorist are Partying.
    Our next President is going to inherit the biggest debt , an mess , no one living will see the good times again. As is it will take a life time to just pay the interest on the dollars we owe, First we were warrened , that Barrack was not smarter than a fifth grader , an the latest photo Shot of him at Fort Hood , shows that a first Grader , shows more respect to our flag and rhe playing of the Nationan Anthem , The Photo shows Barrack standing there holding his Croch , while all others covered there heart or Slauted . Many , many problems with this 40 day on the job, Yet he can go Bow at every Burger King.
    Disgrace to this country is counting down hill more an more every day . Yet the Democrats are cherring full speed ahead , for they are going to purchase the worlds biggest Cruise liner an skip away out to Sea , First Stop Cuba, then Brother Charvez , then next port Kenya , pick up a few lost frinds, final desnation , Iran .

    November 21, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  25. Jerry-Dallas-Tx

    Truly there is more democracy in Democratic party our GOP where we do not entertain internal dissent. This country will be better served by 75 Senate Democrats who vote on facts and sense than party ideology. My brother who works for one of Republican Senators told me two days ago that "the Senator will vote NO not because we don't need this Bill" but due to ideological pressure. The instructions are very clear "SAY NO TO ANYTHING OBAMA/DEMOCRATS".
    Unfortunately this may ruin the party I grew up to. Our base shrinks by the day due to bad policies and typical conservatism. We need to change direction to shape our future or we bestow our trust to 75 Demo Senators.

    November 21, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
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