From POLITICS DAILY:
With no votes to spare, Democratic senators moved health care reform past its first major hurdle Saturday night, with a party-line, 60-to-39 vote to begin consideration of the 2,000-plus page bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled this week.
The bill that senators will begin debating after Thanksgiving combines proposals passed by the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Committee Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), and is designed to make health insurance more accessible and affordable. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would expand coverage to 94 percent of Americans at a cost of $848 billion over the next 10 years.
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From Ezra Klein at The Washington Post:
The list of senators charged with merging the Finance and HELP bills into the legislation that will actually come to a vote on the Senate floor is vanishingly small, and every participant is there for a reason. Harry Reid will preside. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, will be one of the chief negotiators. Chris Dodd, who led the HELP Committee’s health-care efforts, will be the other. And that’s about it. Oh, except for one other person:
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, said that Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the lone Republican on the Finance Committee to vote in favor of the bill, would be invited to future sessions. And Mr. Manley said the Democratic leader was prepared to go to substantial lengths to keep Ms. Snowe’s support.
“He is prepared to do what he can to keep her on board while putting together a bill that can get the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster,” Mr. Manley said.
Democrats really want this bill to be bipartisan — to the point that they’re giving the Republican a space in the negotiations equivalent to the chairmen of the two relevant committees.
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