Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the lone Democratic holdout on a massive healthcare overhaul bill, said on Saturday he would vote to move the legislation forward.
Democrats reach deal to move reform bill
The deal comes after Nelson, Senate leaders and the White House struck a deal late Friday to tighten abortion language in the legislative package, although other tweaks were also part of the agreement.
“We are now, for the first time, really feeling good,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
Schumer, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), spearheaded the marathon workout with Nelson all day yesterday, meeting behind closed doors just off the Senate floor.
“There were several times in that room where we thought we would not have a deal,” he said. “I think seriously, every Democrat realized that whatever his or her view, we have to get this done.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a pro-choice advocate who helped shape the amended abortion language, said the task was to ensure that federal dollars would not go to plans that offer such services.
“Our goal was to make sure that there was a firewall between the private funds and the federal funds,” she said. “And I believe that has been achieved.”
The compromise now clears the path for the Senate to pass its healthcare reform bill by Christmas.
Additionally, the Senate voted to approve a broad defense funding measure that also included an extension of the COBRA health-benefits program as well as a temporary stay on Medicare physician payments through February.
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