Senate approves health care bill 60-39
by desmoinesdem, Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 02:59:33 AM EST
Senators approved the health care reform bill 60-39 as Vice President Joe Biden presided over the Senate's first Christmas Eve session in at least four and a half decades. It was the expected party-line vote, with Republican Jim Bunning absent.
More updates and reaction to this vote to follow.
Yesterday Democrat Tom Harkin of Iowa asked for unanimous consent to move up the final health care vote to make it easier for some members to spend Christmas with their families, but Republican David Vitter of Louisiana said no.
Speaking of health care maneuvering, Joe Lieberman's brand has taken a hit this month. Why is no mystery. As Nate Silver observed here and here, being at the center of the health care reform debate tends to bring senators' approval ratings down, and Lieberman was blocking provisions with broad nationwide support.
After this morning's health reform vote, the Senate moved on to raise the debt ceiling. Retiring Republican George Voinovich of Ohio voted yes, making up for the no vote by Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Update [2009-12-24 8:54:45 by desmoinesdem]: Reaction from Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO (click link for full text):
At this historic moment, it is so important to the future of working Americansand to our countryto get health care reform right. Despite doing some good things, the Senate bill remains inadequate. Substantial changes must be made in the final bill. [...]
It makes no sense to tax the benefits of hard-working Americans to pay for health reform. The House bill curbs insurance companies and taxes the wealthy who benefited so richly from the Bush tax cuts. The Senate bill instead includes exorbitant new taxes on middle class health benefits that would affect one in five workers with employer-provided health coverageor about 31 million peoplein 2016. Thats the wrong way to pay for health care reform and its political suicide.
The House bill is the right model for reform. It covers more people, takes effect more quickly and is financed more fairly. The AFL-CIO is ready to fight on behalf of all working families to produce a final bill that can be called genuine reform. Working people cannot accept anything less.
Update [2009-12-24 9:10:19 by desmoinesdem]: On Tuesday Chris Bowers previewed some of the key fights coming up as House and Senate members reconcile their bills in conference.
Update [2009-12-24 9:37:58 by desmoinesdem]:This chart at the Washington Post site shows how each senator voted, how much he or she has received in campaign contributions from the health industry, and what percent of that state's residents lack health insurance.