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. terry,va

    Was Senator Vionovich in the hospital was is he a COWARD?

    November 21, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. terry,va

    Adding to the should be able to get a job and pay your own way. Obummie has created or saved 500 million jobs for the 330 million of us. I'm so glad we elected him. NOT...NOT.. NOT!!!

    November 21, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  3. Mark

    Oh Boy! That much closer to America going bankrupt!

    November 21, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  4. Ken in NC

    I will not have a good feeling about this Health Care Reform until the ink is dry on the President's signature and I worry then that Republicans might try to sneak in a pen that has no ink in it for him to sign the bill into law.

    November 21, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  5. All of america

    What is it about we don't want this bill they do not understand? Those dumacrats need to be horse whipped for not doing what the majority of the population tells them to do,vote against this scocialistic legislation! They had to bribe senators to vote for this bill. All they want to do is apease obamanation,reguardless of the consequences in the upcoming elections,these dumacrats along with their leader will get the boot !

    November 21, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  6. Perusing-through


    This was not a vote to pass healthcare reform. This was a vote to debate the issues. And the nation just watched the Republican GOP vote against discussing the issues.

    November 21, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  7. catmom

    Wonderful !!! Thank you to all that voted. Now, let's get together and actually pass a decent bill. If Republicans cared about the American people some of them would have at least voted to move the bill forward. Instead they will be all over the talk shows tomorrow whining, moaning and groaning about how the world is coming to an end, BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID. Our country is moving forward, oh my. Guess what, the American people see for themselves who is really concerned to some extent about them and it certainly isn't Republicans.

    November 21, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  8. Dave G

    Under the administration of President George W. Bush Congress used reconciliation to enact three major tax cuts.

    You reap what you sew...

    November 21, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. E

    Republicans are trying to block the DEBATE about the bill? They won't even talk about it, but just waste more time while millions hope they don't get sick until they can get SOME sort of coverage that right now is not available. And yes, those of us without insurance DO work, we DO have education, but life takes turns, sometimes those turns throw everything off, jobs get lost, people die, people get sick, plans fail. Anyone who doesn't know that has had a blessed life. If you think that bad things only happen to people who deserve them you are f ool.

    November 21, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  10. kathy

    Uninsured, underinsured, declined by your insurer, gouged by your insurer, bankrupt, sick and dying citizens of Ohio can rest assured. According to his web page Senator Voinovich feels none of you matter. He couldn't see fit to be present, doing his job in the Senate when it was in session – just too busy. Here is a clear example of fraud and abuse waiting to be purged. Citizens of Ohio are clearly not getting what they pay for in a representative. Take note....

    November 21, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  11. Reatte

    amazing how someone that was not for it before they were against it then they were for it when they were promised 300 million of our tax dollars for their state that still has a mayor that couldn't even get his people out of the city before the levees broke and to see that more than 500 school buses were under water and then the so called senator got bought off but then again that is the american way it's a shame that reid and the rest of the crooks up there can't go straight to jail like the rest of the low lifes that steal peoples money in scams one day the american people will wake up and see that the more the government gets there hands on things the more they screw them up and i hope that it's not too late but it is looking like it more and more everyday

    GOD BLESS US IN AMERICA WE NEED IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    from the scum bags in washington
    WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 21, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  12. Perusing-through

    If the Republicans really believe there views on healthcare reform are solid, than why vote against an opportunity to debate the issues? You would think the Republicans would leap at the chance to “intelligently & civilly” publicly debate their case where the nation can watch (them lie). 😉

    November 21, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  13. Ken

    Big surprise! If the Dems said the daytime sky was blue on a clear day, the GOP would dispute it.

    November 21, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  14. Keith in Austin

    Harry Reid and his band of thieves are encroaching upon America's greatness by turning us into a Euro-Socialist second-rate country. Our Fore-Fathers are turning over in their graves tonight.

    Quite regretable but not surprising considering the true motis operendi of Democrats. Big Government and higher taxes for all!

    November 21, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  15. David

    Well, I wonder if this is how the German's felt as they watched Hitler take control of Germany through the Giz of "National Healthcare" 🙁 I'm not comparing Obama to Hitler mind you. Just pointing out how Hitler siezed Germany /shrug

    I'm just curious how Dems/Libs run around acting like thier healthcare is going to be free? Oh, we're going to pay!

    Remember the women in Florida praised the Lord because Obama was going to get her a car? Some of these posts on here sound just like that 🙁

    Me and my family are scared to death. The left is trying to strip away of Freedoms as individual's and Jessie Jackson's black still.

    Pray they can be stopped but its not looking good at all "Freedom Fighter's"! Not good at all 🙁 We don't even support Freedom Fighters in other oppressive Governments anymore. We turn our backs on break-away baby Republic's? Sigh

    November 21, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  16. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Thanks to all the Senators that voted to move America forward by allowing the debate to begin on the Senate floor.

    Let it be debated thoroughly and in the words of former republicans, a "straight up or down vote"!

    November 21, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  17. now let them be heard

    so the GOPers have to ante up now and prove why it is such a bad bill, I am ready to listen

    November 21, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  18. Mark

    This is what this bill needs...debate and a public review. Hopefully this will lead to clearing up some of the mysteries it contains. I cannot understand why the Republicans oppose this, except that they oppose so much just on principle. That attitude hurts this country and makes the GOP look worse than usual.
    You should expect this attitude out of a fool like Sarah Palin, but you would think that somewhere in the GOP leadership there are people that understand the importance of debating the issues.

    November 21, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  19. quade

    What's so "scary" to the Republican party about talking about the health care bill?

    November 21, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  20. New Yorker

    One thing is certain: you can trust the government to turn "health care" into a bigger debacle than this country has ever known.

    November 21, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  21. Mike

    And we expected her to... what?... endorse it? She's a "NO"publican like the rest of them... even if she likes to pretend to be an "outsider" from the few from her party left in Washington. Why would she support something that will bring down costs for all of us, show compassion for our fellow American who are disadvantaged, and lower the overall costs of our country's pre-existing 3 benefits programs? Those are all ideas that Palin and her kind have proven to be out of touch with reality throughout the health care reform debate so far... her "real" Americans (often poor and found in rural areas) will far and away be the beneficiaries of this reform, despite her and the "NO"publicans best attempts to try to portray the Democrat's efforts otherwise. The AARP, AMA, and CBO are not conspiring to support this thing because they're a bunch of Socialist, people. Without reform, in 5-6 more years, next to no one will be able to afford to insure their families if the increases in costs we are seeing stay on track. I say SUPPORT REFORM FOR ALL AMERICANS CONGRESS, OR EXPECT TO GO HOME IN 2010. As for Palin, please... I repeat please run for President in 2012... your 30% of the vote vs. our 70%... real America vs. REALITY... bring it!

    November 21, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  22. Syla

    Republicans don't want to change the healthcare system because it could potentially cut off millions of dollars in campaign contributions from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. They don't give a flip about the common man. Life under them would revert to feudalism.

    November 21, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    Another step toward meaningful health care reform!

    However, it's not over yet. And to make it a reality, we need a robust public option, the elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions, and no opt-out for the states (because you know that the unfortunate folks living in "Red" states will be used as patsies in the GOP's bid to regain power).

    And two important, effective ways to help fund this meaningful health care reform are:

    1. Eliminate the FICA tax cap on income above $90,000. This would generate a huge source of funds. (Right now, no FICA is paid on individual income above $90,000.)

    2. Change the top tax rate to what it was under Ronald Reagan: 39%. Right now, the top rate is 36%; people making higher incomes can afford to pay an additional 3%.

    Are these "taxes on the rich?" Yes, they are. And the wealthy can certainly afford it.

    After all, it's the least they can do for the country that has given them the opportunity to create their wealth in the first place.

    November 21, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  24. New Yorker

    One thing is certain: you can trust the government to turn "health care" into a bigger debacle than this country has ever known. Excuse me, I mean you can trust the present left-wing government to turn into the biggest debacle we have ever known.

    November 21, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  25. not alone

    GOOO Dems,good job and those doubtiers will see in the end of what good will come of your efforts.

    November 21, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
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