Senate leaders in the past 48 hours have wrangled two holdout Democrats—with one remaining—as the clock continues to tick down to the first of what will eventually be scores of votes on a 10-year, $848 billion health overhaul package.
Landrieu onboard as crucial vote nears on Senate reform bill
Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, speaking on the Senate floor, said she would vote in favor of moving a reform bill to the debate and amendment stage, but did so with an eye toward changing the legislation as it winds its way through the lengthy process.
“My vote today to move forward on this important debate should in no way be construed by the supporters of this current framework as an indication on how I might vote as this debate comes to an end,” she said, adding, “there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward, but much more work needs to be done.”
Landrieu joined fellow centrist Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska as being one of the last to end their silence over how they would vote on Saturday. Yesterday, Nelson released a statement saying he would help his party advance the bill.
Now, only Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) remains as the sole uncertain vote for the majority party.
No Republican members are expected to vote in favor of the bill.
The rare Saturday vote, expected around 8 pm ET, would allow Democrats to overcome a block that Republicans have in place and would move the bill to the debate and amendment phase.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who earlier this week delivered the 2,079-page bill after melding two packages approved by separate Senate committees, said this first vote is crucial to fixing the fractured U.S. healthcare system.
“Americans deserve a debate on healthcare reform,” he said. Now just hours before the vote, Reid is closer to getting just that.
The bill aims to greatly restructure the health insurance sector, creating a national public health plan and cooperatives to help cover 94% of legal U.S. citizens. Individuals, families and businesses will have the option to buy coverage in a newly created marketplace called an “exchange.”
Additionally, the bill includes a number of delivery system reforms, which taken together will change how hospitals, physicians and a host of other providers practice and get paid.
Landrieu’s and Nelson’s votes are essential for Democrats, who need all 60 members of their caucus to overcome an effort to block the bill.
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