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Scheherazade On December - 21 - 2009

Amidst a DC blizzard Senators arrived for a cloture vote that began at 1:01am EST to determine whether or not to end the debate on major amendments for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The result was a 60-40 party-line vote.

Bitter words were on the lips of Senators on both sides of the aisle. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) implored that at least one Democrat vote against cloture, but his pleas were unheeded. “People have to show up, and people have to vote. At least three more times,” he told reporters. This “is not over, by any stretch.”

“If the Republicans want to exercise every single right they have under the rules, they can keep us here until Christmas Eve, no doubt about it,” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). “But to what end, I ask? To what end? We’re going to have the vote at 1 a.m. that requires 60 votes, and then why stay here until Christmas Eve to do what they know we’re going to do?”

The votes were made via the formality of each Senator standing at their desk and casting their vote at the request of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Despite the lateness of the hour Victoria Kennedy, widow of the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), attended along with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, and the director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle.

Victoria Kennedy recently wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in which she expressed her support for the bill and made known that her late husband would have voted in favor of it. After the vote Kennedy was embraced by many of the Senators who greeted her with warm words. “Without him, it never would have happened,” Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) told her. “He’s smiling tonight,” Victoria Kennedy told Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT). “This is a big step. You’ve made history.”

“The historic moment before us is the easiest choice and perhaps the most historic vote we may ever cast as United States senators,” said Senator Paul Kirk (D-MA) who was named the late Senator Kennedy’s successor.  “Is this a bill of real reform that Ted Kennedy would champion and vote for? Absolutely, yes. Ted Kennedy knew real reform when he saw it, and so do I.”

The bill received a further endorsement from the White House via an op-ed authored by Vice President Joe Biden in the New York Times. “While it is not perfect, the bill pending in the Senate today is not just good enough — it is very good,” wrote the Vice President.

The procedural vote was the first of three before the bill comes before the Senate at 7:00pm EST Christmas Eve. If it should pass it would then be brought before a conference committee in the hopes of reconciling the differences between the House bill and the Senate bill.

The next vote will be whether or not to include the compromise language in the bill on Tuesday. Wednesday’s vote will determine if the debate about the actual bill will come to a close. Further information about the procedures and formalities can be found at Bloomberg.com.

86 Responses so far.

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  1. nellie says:

    From the LATimes:

    Senate Democrats get 60 votes to move healthcare bill along

    The Senate’s dramatic first vote to shut down the Republican filibuster capped a weekend session that marked the third time in the last month that the Senate has met on Saturday and Sunday. The vote, at 1 a.m. today Eastern time, was on whether to limit debate on Reid’s manager’s amendment, which includes the compromises required to unite the Democratic caucus.

    Two more procedural votes will be needed before the bill comes to a final vote: On Tuesday to close debate over whether to insert the compromise language into the healthcare bill, and on Wednesday to close debate on the bill itself.

    If all cloture motions pass — as seems likely — the Senate can vote on the bill itself before Christmas.

  2. nottoolate says:

    First, thanks to all on PPOV for providing this forum. I found the TPM article (and many of the comments!) interesting:



    Because conservative Democrats have more leverage than do their progressive counterparts--because each one has the power to kill the legislation, and have been clear that they will if the bill moves significantly to the left--the smart money is on House liberals being asked to swallow a bill that doesn’t contain many of the provisions they value the most. Particularly, the public option.

    And that will widen an already yawning rift between the progressive base and the White House and Democratic leadership. How that all shakes out--what liberals get in return for accepting a less progressive bill, who decides to support the bill, what the outside groups do, and how the party responds--is where the action will be in the weeks ahead.

  3. Scheherazade says:

    From Talking Points Memo:

    GOP Voted To Delay Funding For Troops — As Part Of Health Care Debate?

    Everybody knows the health care debate has become more and more contentious, and dominated by a Republican parliamentary effort to delay the debate. But an under-appreciated aspect of this whole controversy — exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented — is the fact that it’s even affected defense spending, with Senate Republicans having worked to hold that up, too!

    Late on Thursday night, the Senate voted 63-33 to break a Republican filibuster of the defense appropriations bill. Only three Republicans voted against this delay of military spending: Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME). The filibuster was part of a Republican effort to further delay the health care bill.

    So think for a second about what happened here. The Senate GOP sought to hold up military spending — and not because of an argument with the defense appropriations bill itself or something in it that might have been offensive to them, but in an attempt to block a domestic political debate. It was an especially interesting position for a party that repeatedly accused then-Senator Barack Obama, during the 2008 campaign, of trying to “defund the troops” when he voted against a military funding bill because it didn’t include a timeline to withdraw from Iraq.

    …continued at Talking Points Memo.

    • nellie says:

      Wow. That was quick!

    • KQuark says:

      Thanks for the heads up. Very interesting.

    • Scheherazade says:

      From the article:

      he just said that it should pass, he now wants it to pass

      -said the changes he wanted from his MTP interview have been made..named at least 3 of them
      -said that rockefeller amendment is huge
      -states still have the right to make the bill better too
      -says that disappointed in no PO but best that can be expected
      -cost panels with teeth in them now (3 of them)to regulate costs by insurance co
      -hospitals can be self exmpted (sounded positive but missed part)
      -great thing in bill with how they treat small business
      -he agrees with feingold about wh and PO

      • nellie says:

        It would be such a pleasure to hear the progressive leadership place the blame squarely where it belongs when it comes to health reform obstruction — on the Republicans. I’m am so sick of people who should be helping this administration to succeed continually diverting the blame from the GOP to the White House. It’s nonsense.

    • Scheherazade says:

      Oh cool. Thanks for the update. :) I hadn’t seen that article.

  4. Scheherazade says:

    From Talking Points Memo:

    McCain: Ted Kennedy Would Be Disappointed Health Care Bill Not Bipartisan (VIDEO)

    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said today that he didn’t think the late Sen. Ted Kennedy would appreciate that health care reform was passed “on a party line vote.”

    McCain slammed the Senate bill because “there has never been a major reform accomplished in the history of this country that wasn’t bipartisan.”

    He also said: “Senator Kennedy would appreciate the outcome. I don’t think he would appreciate it on a party line vote.”

    All of the negotiations and efforts that I made with him, we never engaged in this kind of unsavory process of offering people different deals, which in the end cost people from other states lots of money and puts burdens on them.

    Here’s the full clip:

  5. Scheherazade says:

    From Media Matters for America:

    FoxNews.com falsely claimed CBO said “Senate health bill won’t reduce deficits”

    A headline posted on FoxNews.com falsely claimed, “CBO: Senate Health Bill Won’t Reduce Deficits.” In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that the bill would reduce federal deficits by $132 billion over 2010-2019 and would continue to reduce deficits in subsequent decades

  6. Scheherazade says:


    From Talking Points Memo:

    Sector Snap: Health insurers surge after key vote

    Health insurers jump after key Senate vote on health care reform; passage expected this week

    Note: TPM’s source is AP News, and I cannot copy the text of the article without the express permission of the Associated Press. Sorry.

  7. Scheherazade says:


    From Talking Points Memo:

    AMA Endorses Health Care Reform

    The American Medical Association today endorsed the Senate health care reform bill.

    The organization’s president-elect, Cecil Wilson, spoke at a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats.

    “After close and careful review, the AMA is pleased to announce its support for passage of the amended health system reform bill,” Wilson said.

    He said the AMA supports several “key benefits” in the bill, including “improvements in choice and access” and the elimination of denials for pre-existing conditions.

    “America has the best health care in the world, if you can get it. But for far too many people, access to care is out of reach because they lack insurance,” he said. “And this is just not acceptable to physicians.”

    He said the AMA has worked closely with senators over the past few weeks. And, because “there is still work to do,” he said the organization will continue to work with the Senate to address issues of concern.

    One of those issues is the matter of increasing Medicare payments to doctors, which he said Reid and Sen. Max Baucus promised to address early next year.

  8. Scheherazade says:

    From Talking Points Memo:

    Sen. Whitehouse: There Will Be A ‘Reckoning’ For GOP’s ‘Desperate, No-Holds-Barred Mission Of Propaganda’

    On the Senate floor yesterday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) slammed Republicans for their “desperate, no-holds-barred mission of propaganda, falsehood, obstruction and fear,” which he said will result in a “day of judgment” by the American people.

    Whitehouse began his monologue by quoting 1950s intellectual Richard Hofstadter, warning that a right-wing minority could create “a political environment in which the rational pursuit of our well-being and safety would become impossible.”

    “The malignant and vindictive passions that have descended on the Senate are busily creating just such a political climate,” said Whitehouse.

    Whitehouse attributed these “desperate acts” to the Democrats’ “momentum,” which is
    working toward passing health care reform legislation, and “when we do, the lying time is over. The American public will see what actually comes to pass when we pass this bill as our new law. The American public will see firsthand the difference between what is, and what they were told.”

    When it turns out there are no death panels, when there is no bureaucrat between you and your doctor, when the ways your health care changes seem like a good deal to you, and a pretty smart idea, when the American public sees the discrepancy between what really is, and what they were told by the Republicans, there will be a reckoning. There will come a day of judgment about who was telling the truth.

    He concluded: “There will come a day of judgment, and our Republican friends know that. That Mr. President, is why they are terrified.”

    Here’s the full clip:

    • SueInCa says:

      I love this man, and he is right.

    • Hopeington says:

      Thanks for the updates, Sen Whitehouse is one of my favorites.
      And I can’t help but think he is right.
      I read that what is being offered is the non profit insurance the Senate and Congress have access to, and was wondering if that wouldn’t act, in some way, the same as the public option, in regards to competitive pricing and costs.

  9. Scheherazade says:

    I really appreciate the feedback from everyone. :)

    • boomer1949 says:

      One of many reasons I abandoned the “MotherShip.” I knew I could learn so much from the talented and humble folks here.

      My mind is a terrible thing to waste. :-)

    • escribacat says:

      You are a one-woman aggregator AND an excellent writer and I am very glad you have arrived here on the planet! I think you’re pretty damn cool.

      • Scheherazade says:

        You’ve definitely won me over 😀

        *HUGS TIGHT*

        I wish I had the energy to write articles and post links all day long. Information is the key to keeping the truth on our side, and we’ve got to use the truth to call the right on lies when we see them!

  10. abby4ever says:

    I really like this article. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened (we don’t always get the most accurate reports over here) and this article is concise (and yet somehow lively, too)… and, as I’ve said, has real clarity.

  11. escribacat says:

    Excellent post, Scherz. Thanks for explaining what those next votes were about. I am still mystified by these arcane procedures in the Senate and have never followed a bill this closely before. Despite all my doubts and disappointments about certain aspects, I find myself increasingly excited about the bill passing. I am ready to get this show on the road!

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