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. GAK

    Lets see,the republicans have opposed everything that has come before the House and Senate and have YET to come up with anything remotely positive for fixing the problems they helped create!! They are opposed to debate on the health care bill,WHY!! Is it because the insurance and drug companies have them in their hip pocket.Is it because the bill will actually do something for lowering health care costs.,Will it make health insurance companies have to compete for our business,instead of them saying take it or leave it!..I for one am tired of paying more each year and getting LESS coverage. Perhaps this will make someone provide us with good coverage..And for those Repubcons out there, ask you your elected offical how much he/she pays for GOVERNMENT run health care..In case you don't know its ZIP,ZERO,NOTHING.How many of you pay nothing for your health care????????

    November 21, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. Juan

    I am of over 60 years of age, recently had a series of tests to determine if I am diabetic. Thankfully all tests were negative. Here's the rub...United Health Care will NOT pay for any part of the tests. All costs are borne by Medicare and me. My monthly premiums go into the pockets of United Health Care outside of Medicare. Go figure.

    "The procedural vote was a significant victory for Reid and the Obama administration". This is no flash in the pants decision.

    November 21, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  3. Cary in NC

    Obama is supposed to be "cleaning up the mess". Not creating new ones for someone else to clean up.

    November 21, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  4. bill

    Hey, Republicans, wouldn't Jesus want health care for all? Your vote will be judged by God.

    November 21, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  5. andrea

    Yah...keep on going, keep on pushing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 21, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  6. katiec

    Now let's make sure they get Health Care Reform passed with
    a Public Option.
    Enough of playing politics. Now is the time to represent the
    American people and our country.

    November 21, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  7. democrackpipe

    When the Obama care legislation is reconsidered and rescinded in January 2013 President Palin will sign the bill. CNN and others will be squealing like the stuck pigs that they are.

    November 21, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  8. Deb n Texas

    Thanks for the progress!

    November 21, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  9. democrackpipe

    Why has CNN totally shut down any stories in the Political Ticker about your lord and savior Obarack Hussien Obama ? You should provide at least a fair and balanced opportunity for those who are confidant that Mr. Obama will be replaced by Mrs. Palin to critique his foolishness.

    November 21, 2009 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  10. Ken, Arizona


    November 21, 2009 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  11. J.V.Hodgson

    A filibuster on this matter would be a disgrace to the Senate and not in the interests of the American nation as a whole. Republicans it really does seem have one objective which is to say no to anything proposed by this Democratic government. They even delayed the vote on extending unemployment benefits which eventually pased 98 to zero and also the apellate judge who passed by more than 70 votes. I understand also the Republicans are using delaying tactics on 52 other legislative matters!!
    What a joke.

    November 21, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  12. Trent

    It's amazing that one serious illness can put a family in financial and personal ruin. With insurance as it stands today many people are still at risk. We must have reform now.

    November 21, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  13. Runofthemill

    Good that it goes to the floor. Give it debate, then pass it. If it goes to an up/down vote it passes easy.

    November 21, 2009 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  14. Richard N. Komi

    The Senate vote to bring the health care bill to the floor for a full debate is a right step in the right direction. The issue of health care can no longer wait as millions of Americans are suffering due to lack of health insurance or inadequate coverage. I believe the Senate should pass this bill to show the American people that we have a government that cares about its people.

    November 21, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  15. Ava

    Watch out for the mud-slinging television ads coming our way. Republicans always seem to have enough money for these.

    November 21, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  16. Eric

    Another victory for the democratic party and one step closer to finally getting the health care reform we need so desperately in this country. Hopefully this is a good slap in the face to Republicans. Forget compromise obviously that doesn't work with them. The Democratic party is proving they can get things done without the support of the Republican party. This vote give me hope of true change in this country for the better. Democrats rule!!!

    November 21, 2009 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  17. kerd

    Awesome! I hope that this will be the beginning of a healthy, compassionate debate between Senators that will address the needs of the American People. They all need to discuss how OUR government can lead the way in providing desperately needed health care reform. Now we understand that no bill is perfect and someone will always stand to gain or lose and we understand the cost is astronomical but what price do we place on a family member who get sick and is denied medical services for any reason. I hope that maybe the Republicans will reconsider their position and get involved and do something to assist the process while they still have a voice in the matter. Who knows, it might just pass with or without their input.

    November 21, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  18. Dennis, Amarillo Texas

    Well, folks. quality healthcare in America is about to go down the tubes along with all our tax money. But all those dimwitts who think they are on the road to free healthcare are high fiving in their little 8 x 8 rooms.

    November 21, 2009 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  19. AUC

    Thank God for one more hurdle. Its hard to imagine how anyone in these United States could buy the bull that republicans spew from their lips each time they speak. Any intelligent person would ask why would anyone not want their fellow American to have the opportunity to be covered by insurance and assist families who are losing homes, jobs, and even their lives under our current healthcare system????

    I am tired of the crap and the double standards by the other side. Wake up America and stop taking this mess. These pathetic republican senators who voted against helping their fellow Americans but, voted for George Bush to invade and bomb another conutry and send our tax dollars to rebuild another country while millions here in America go hungry are homeless and die due to inadequate health care. Open your eyes. Stop taking this mess!!!!

    November 22, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  20. PeterG

    To me saying that Sarah Palin "slams healthcare bill" is the equivalent of saying "CarrotTop slams health care bill".... she is less and less relevant at time passes. Why are we still reporting what she thinks?

    November 22, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  21. MrManhattan

    Maybe if the Repuglicans had spent the last 8 years fixing American problems instead of aiding and supporting the Saud and BinLaden families, we wouldn't be in this mess.

    I say send them all to Mecca where they belong.

    November 22, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  22. Keith in Austin

    Comrade Reid and Nikita Obozo. Brothers in Marxism!

    November 22, 2009 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  23. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Thats right, Lets not force the insurance industry to offer coverage to people with diabetes, or folks who are over the mandated weight limits, but otherwise within the normal parameters of health guidelines.

    I am overweight, but otherwise healthy. My wife is a diabetic who is insulin dependent to the tune of $450 a month in insulin. I am 62 and she is 57. Neither of us smoke. Last year the best health care we were able to find would not cover anything diabetes related and cost us over $1000 a month. Then the insulin added another $450 on top of that. That took all but $400 of her salery. I clear about $2000 a month. With a house payment, utilities, gas, groceries and life insurance.

    I am in the hole every month and it is getting deeper. So, listening to the Republicans telling me affordable insurance will bankrupt me is ludicrous. Without the health care bill, I will soon be bankrupt, homeless and living off of charity and public assistance.

    Tell me again how you are helping me, Palin. You are just lining the pockets of Insurance executives and health care lawyers, almost all of whom support you.

    November 22, 2009 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  24. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    We must lift the anti-trust exempt for the health insurance industry in this reform bill. With this exempt, there is never a free market for health insurance and we will not be able to use competition as an excuse for the exchange. Therefore, we must get rid of this anti-trust exempt.

    I hope the final bill for President Obama to sign is going to be a simple bill within 100 pages. The more we write, the more loopholes it is creating. Most importantly, we should all read the Senate and House bills so we know what's instore for us.

    November 22, 2009 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  25. Ian

    Who cares what sarah "pain in the ass" Palin thinks? definitely not most americans. Its time to move forward with real issues not Palin!

    God Bless America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 22, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
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