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. Keith in Austin

    One small step for Obozo. One giant leap toward Socialism for America!

    November 21, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  2. hongli

    All 40 Republicans need to be REMOVED from office immediately. Little will show how much will do. These racial bastards will not even vote to debate the bill. It's clearly that the Republicans are not interested in anything. I call on all Americans to VOTE them out NOW.

    November 21, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Bob Of Lompoc

    This will become Law. The Republicans are standning in the way whose time has come. They stood against The Minimum Wage, entry into W W II, Medicare, The Civil Rights Bills of the 60s, and multiple other ideas that became Law, in spite of them. What is it like to always, on the most important issues, to be dead wrong ? Only they know.

    November 21, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. Carnell From The Motor City!

    GOP=Grandstanding Obstructionism Posturing! This Has Been The Republican Political Playbook For 2009. They Present No REAL Ideas To The American Public At Large, But Attempt To Reinstitute Failed Ideals And Programs That Have Already Been Roundly Rejected By The American Public At Large.

    November 21, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  5. Clark

    how do they debate a 2000 plus page bill that they haven't even read .... and since they haven't read it ..... how did it get written ... did they cut and paste passages given to them by special interest groups .... and how many contradictions are contained in those multiple cut and past passages?

    November 21, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  6. Reynald

    Republicans said they it had to be talked through YET they didn't want a debate. Shows how much it's all about crushing the other party they are.

    November 21, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  7. Bob Of Lompoc

    This will become Law. The Republicans are standing in the way of an idea whose time has come. They stodd agsinst The Mimimum Wage, The National Labor Relations Act, entry into W W II, Medicare, The Civil Rights Bills of the 60s, and multiple other ideas that became Law, in spite of them. What is it like to always, on the most important issues, be dead wrong ? Only they know.

    November 21, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    Say, "Hello!" to health reform. Say, "Goodbye!" to republican Hoover care.

    November 21, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  9. anonymous

    Disgusting. Older Americans will have their benefits cut so that we can pay for people who in theory can work. This is a very sad day In America when we will have this forced on us. Also the people who never bought insurance and then try to but it when they get sick and then get mad that they get turned down. NO abortion funding. Vote all of these people out of office ASAP.

    November 21, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  10. independent

    This vote is in line with the core values of the United States: responsibility, prudence and fairness.

    Congratulations America.

    November 21, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  11. Brian from NJ

    This vote was a showcase of exactly what America hates about DC these days... $100M! It is mind blowing when you think about the economy we are in and the debt we are piling up that Reid thinks he can spend our money so recklessly just to secure a vote...

    The Democrats and their supporters did NOT win... THEY BOUGHT A VICTORY WHEN THEY REALIZED THEY WERE GOING TO LOSE! And the real losers? The American taxpayers who footed that $100M... disgusting. Obama is a LIAR and HYPOCRITE for allowing this to happen...

    Hope Mary Landrieu is ready to join the unemployed in her state... she just made herself the poster child for political corruption... it is going to be a long and painful year for that woman!

    November 21, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  12. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    Good, now we can start some intelligent, thoughtful debate that the senate was elected to do in the first place. All people who voted against having a thoughtful, open-minded discussion, are in my opinion, cowards. If you vote against a debate, how can you make the changes to the bill that you want to see changed. It is just common sense. Something is better than nothing. "The biggest risk of all is to take no risk at all."

    November 21, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  13. Jimbob

    It is a shame!

    my poor grandchildren need to pay for this and all the other " nice"
    things the Obama administration industry ( might have an emission), no doctors (might cost money), no energy( might have an emission)

    no Taxes cause the country goes bankrupt


    November 21, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  14. Fordy

    How comes when republicans are in control of the house the never put forward any proposals on reforming health care, yet they're all now saying "We have a plan that cost less and will provide coverage for the uninsured". Why is it that its only during democratic presidencies that there is a debate about health care reform? Every republican being interviewed on TV now say they want to see reform, so how is it they've never brought a motion to the floor for reform when they're in charge of the house? How is it there was no Health Care debate during the last 8 years? Just asking!

    November 21, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  15. LacrosseNitwit

    Wat da poo? Me republikan, me thot dis wuz not happen!!

    Me an me republikan frends not happi, we want die in povertee like normal ignant poor republikan folks.

    Now we gotta have medikal insurance, make us live bettur lifes.

    Not fare.

    November 21, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  16. L for Legend

    If the final vote is along party lines, be it so. It's incomprehensible how so-called intellectuals refuse to discuss/debate an issue among colleagues. Those who favor healthcare reform will also likely remember the 40 who voted NO and reject them during the next election. The repugs don't have a lock on re-elections and their fear mongering technique will backfire on them.

    November 21, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  17. marty

    Hopefully our esteemed Senators will now enter into a truly, genuine, healthy debate regarding Health care sans the theatrics that we've all witnessed. Lately, the anti-billers seem to have a fetish for dropping reams of paper on the Senate floor and some of the scare talk just doesn't wash anymore. A single payer system with a public option is being well received by the citizenry and should be seriously debated.

    November 21, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  18. MARK

    Democrats will suffer for this vote. The American people have become more and more opposed to this bill.

    November 21, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  19. Masudi

    Thank God some still have common sense to allow debate on MOST important issue of our country to take place.

    Imagine the so called Value mongers looking out to the folks would not allow a debate on a family matter. I suppose republicans in their households don't debate on issues they disagree with their spouses about. They shove it under the rug and call it quits.

    November 21, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  20. Caesar in Atlanta

    Sarah, don't forget you were running on a platform with McCain for 100 more years in Iraq. You and Grandpa McCain did not mind spending 1 trillion to rebuild Iraq...give them new hospitals, new bridges, free medicine and keep those 100,000 Iraqis to rebuild Iraq on our payroll. What a patriot you are...but don't want to help our own Americans here. Penny Wise, Dollar Fullish...just like you.

    November 21, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  21. mb-texas

    Listening to the debate a stranger or non citizen would think the United States of American was two countries/We need to be

    November 21, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  22. Public Option for Public Employees

    The Administration should require all 3 million federal employees to go on the Government-run health system. This would instantly put 3 million paying contributors into the system, making it viable right away. Since federal employees do not generate wealth or contribute to the economy in any way, this is one way they could be a help to the country, for a change.

    November 21, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  23. munchmom

    UGH!! Socialism is on the fast track now....

    November 21, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  24. terry,va

    Go forward and screw the American public the charge of the light brigade said. Cannons to the right of us, cannons to the left. Into the valley of death charged the Dumbocrats. For those that support the handout, get a job!!!! Anyone that pays taxes is against this bill.

    November 21, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  25. Tracy-Oakley

    What is wrong with having a debate?? Republicans couldn't vote yes to a discussion?? Really?? OMG what a bunch sad bunch of 3rd graders.

    November 21, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
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