Health Bill Clears Final Hurdle, Passage Set for Christmas Eve

Posted December 23, 2009 at 3:34pm

The Senate Wednesday afternoon cleared its last procedural hurdle to passing Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) $871 billion health care reform bill, voting to end the third and final GOP filibuster to the measure that’s set for approval on Christmas Eve.

The votes to invoke cloture on the underlying bill required an ailing 92-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) to be wheeled to the floor for the sixth time since debate began at the at the end of November. Senators will return to the chamber at 8 a.m. Thursday to cast final votes on the bill.

The bill, months in the making, is expected to advance strictly along party lines, with all 60 Members of the Democratic Conference voting in favor. And while little drama remains heading into tomorrow’s conclusion, Republicans Wednesday continued to hammer away at Democrats over the package. For instance, during a press conference, Republicans charged Democrats with using accounting gimmicks to double-count savings under the bill to Medicare. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), pointing to a Congressional Budget Office letter, argued that the bill includes language that would use Medicare savings to pay for other programs — and therefore cannot be used to count against the debt. He called the maneuver “a $300 billion misrepresentation.—