Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday afternoon set the procedural wheels in motion for a crucial vote on a major health care reform bill Saturday night at 8 p.m. and scored a coup by apparently persuading Republicans to abandon their plans to have the entire 2,074-page bill read aloud on the Senate floor.Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Thursday afternoon, Reid filed a motion to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on the motion to proceed to a House-passed tax bill that will serve as a shell for the $848 billion Senate health care measure that he unveiled Wednesday. In doing so, Reid also asked for and received the consent of Republicans to avoid more votes this week as well as a threatened, lengthy reading of the Senate bill. Reids move means the Senate will wrap up work Saturday and avoid coming into session next week.Reid needs the votes of all 60 Members of the Democratic Conference in order to beat back a filibuster on the motion to proceed to the debate, given the unanimous opposition of all 40 Republicans in the chamber. Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture.One senior Senate Republican aide said the GOP leadership agreed to forego the reading of the Senate bill as well as separate, simple majority vote on starting debate on the bill in exchange for an all-day debate on the measure Saturday.Under the rules, we would only have been entitled to one hour of debate before the vote. Now we have all day to flip one Democrat, the aide said. The reading would've been to an empty chamber after the vote had happened, press would've gone home, and Americans would've turned the channel. Now it's show time.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.