Meeting its Christmas Eve deadline, the Senate passed its version of the health care reform legislation that’s been rankling Republicans (and even some from the left) for months now. The fight to actually effect reform isn’t over yet by any stretch. The next step is House-Senate negotiations to determine the final bill—and we can no doubt count on hearing from the tea-party contingent—but for his part, President Barack Obama seemed pleased with the bill’s passage Thursday. —KA
The Los Angeles Times:
The bill, which is President Obama’s top domestic priority, would extend insurance to about 30 million people who now lack it, expand the reach of Medicaid for the poor, and impose new rules on health insurance companies. It would cost about $871 billion over 10 years, but raise more than that in new taxes and fees and cuts in Medicare.
Democrats were triumphant but weary as they passed the bill and ended a long, eventful year of legislating under the Obama presidency. “This is a victory for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after the vote. “This is a victory because we’ve affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not merely a privilege for the select few.”
But Republicans, whose delaying tactics and demand for extended debate forced Democrats to postpone the Senate vote until Christmas Eve, vowed to keep fighting the bill as it heads into House-Senate negotiations that will craft the final bill.
“This fight is long from over,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.”
Underscoring the drama of the vote, Vice President Joe Biden presided over the roll call from the chair. Senators cast their votes from their desks of the Senate floor, a custom reserved for the most momentous occasions. Only Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) was absent.