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Roll Call

Democratic Senators Insist Health Bill Will Contain Costs

Senate Democrats sought to push back Monday against GOP charges that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) $848 billion health care bill is a costly expansion of the federal government, maintaining the bill will help cut the deficit while reining in costs.

“Contrary to what we’ve heard from some of our opponents, the bill is going to actually help with our deficit,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said on a conference call, touting a letter that a group of economists sent to lawmakers Monday praising the measure.

Shaheen argued that the bill “eliminates some of the costly inefficiencies” such as re-hospitalizations, and will help bring down the overall costs of the health care system.

“Our health care system is too expensive for families, workers, business owners, and our nation’s economy, and we need to fix it. ... This legislation is the first step toward achieving these goals and containing health care costs for all Americans,” Shaheen told reporters.

The conference call comes two days after Senators voted 60-39 to begin debate on Reid’s plan. The measure is expected to dominate the chamber’s agenda from the time Senators return next week until Christmas.

Similarly, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) argued that Saturday’s vote is a good first step toward helping turn the economy around. “Saturday’s vote was a significant step forward ... to enacting meaningful health care reform,” Bennett said, adding that “we have a lot to do to get our country back on sound financial footing, and this bill will help us do that.”

Senators headed home Saturday night for the weeklong Thanksgiving recess. Although Senators are likely to hear an earful from their constituents about the legislation, it appears unlikely at this point they will see a repeat of the angry town halls that dominated the monthlong August break.

Most of the anti-health-care-reform movement’s focus has been on the House — for instance, while thousands of conservatives protested during the lead-up to the House vote earlier this month, only a handful of protesters were on hand outside the Capitol for the Senate’s vote on Saturday.

Additionally, while some Republican Senators like Jim DeMint (S.C.) have made a point of courting protesters, most Republicans in the Senate have tried to keep their distance.

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