Updated: 10:27 a.m.Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) on Tuesday morning skipped a series of three votes on health care reform legislation, declining to weigh in on the procedural votes related to the Democrats $871 billion health care package.Inhofes votes would not have made a difference in the outcome. The 60-seat strong Democratic Conference voted unanimously to end a Republican filibuster on a substitute amendment to the health care bill and also voted as a unified block in favor of final passage of the managers amendment to the legislation.Inhofes 39 Republican colleagues voted unanimously to continue the filibuster of the substitute amendment and against final passage of the managers amendment. The managers amendment includes the various changes to the health care bill and compromise deals that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made to garner the full support of his Conference.Inhofe was the only Senator to take a pass on Tuesday mornings votes, which began at 7:20. Inhofes office said the Senator was absent to fly his wife home to Oklahoma in advance of the Christmas holiday but that he is headed back to Washington, D.C., for this weeks remaining votes. Inhofe entered a lengthy statement into the Congressional Record regarding his absence from Tuesdays votes.
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.