WASHINGTON DC — On a cold Christmas Eve morning the United States Senate met for one last vote on H.R. 3590. With Vice President Joe Biden presiding the voting concluded with a 60-39 party-line vote. The vote follows 25 days of debate and negotiation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered their final thoughts before the voting began.
Senator Reid offered gracious words of thanks and recognition for those who had put in so much work over the past several weeks. He mentioned many of the unsung heroes of the legislative process and the many “parlimentarians” who put in such long hours as well.
Senator McConnell offered the same gestures and tokens of kindness, but he then began with rhetoric that has become all too familiar since the summer months.
“Instead [of reforming health care] we’re left with a party-line vote… and a truly outraged public.” McConnell went on to declare that “the people who vote for it will get an earfull” from the public after they return home for the holidays. “It isn’t over.”
Senator Reid responded by saying health care reform is a “process,” and addressed the idea of getting an “earfull” by mentioning the story of a child that has been turned down for coverage saying that the “earfull” he would get would be one of thanks from people such as that child and his family. Reid echoed McConnell’s sentiments in a more hopeful fashion saying “[t]his is only the beginning.”
Reid went on to reference the CBO’s report that shows the deficit will be reduced as a result of this bill. “How long can we afford to put this off” he asked.
As Senator Reid continued he spoke more passionately about the bill quoting the late Senator Kennedy, President Harry Truman, and the founding fathers. He claimed the bill would help this country as we “move towards a more perfect union.” He continually stressed that the bill is about “progress and opportunity” and used that theme as a way to address the concerns of progressives who have spoken out in opposition to the bill.
Reid used assertive language when referring to the Republicans. The Nevada senator said that this is the first time in our nation’s history that a party put politics before their country – a possible dig at Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who’s 2008 campaign slogan was “country first.” Reid said the Republicans continued to use “myth and misinformation” even when those fictions have been debunked and proven untrue.
However, it must be said that even moderate Republicans such as Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have expressed disapproval of the rushed way in which the bill was passed.
“I was extremely disappointed,’’ Snowe said. “[T]here was zero opportunity to amend the bill or modify it, and Democrats had no incentive to reach across the aisle.’’
From here the bill will be sent to a committee in the hopes of reconciling the two bills. However, this may prove to be a more difficult matter than was originally thought. Several House Democrats have expressed their discontentment with the “Nelson compromise.”
Should the bill become law it will be the first time since the creation of Medicare in 1965 that legislation of its kind has been passed.