Senate passes Obama's health care overhaul

Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009 7:26 AM
Last updated 10:34 AM
  • Follow Latest News

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats passed a landmark health care bill in a climactic Christmas Eve vote that could define President Barack Obama's legacy and usher in near-universal medical coverage for the first time in the country's history.

The 60-39 vote on a cold winter morning capped months of arduous negotiations and 24 days of floor debate. It also followed a succession of failures by past congresses to get to this point. Vice President Joe Biden presided as 58 Democrats and two independents voted "yes." Republicans unanimously voted "no."

The tally far exceeded the simple majority required for passage.

The Senate's bill must still be merged with legislation passed by the House before Obama could sign a final bill in the new year. There are significant differences between the two measures but Democrats say they've come too far now to fail.

Both bills would extend health insurance to more than 30 million more Americans.

Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, who made health reform his life's work, watched the vote from the gallery. So did Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest-serving House member and a champion of universal health care his entire career.

"This morning isn't the end of the process, it's merely the beginning. We'll continue to build on this success to improve our health system even more," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the vote. "But that process cannot begin unless we start today ... there may not be a next time."

At a news conference a few moments later, Reid said the vote "brings us one step closer to making Ted Kennedy's dream a reality."

The Nevadan said that "every step of this long process has been an enormous undertaking."

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, said he "very happy to see people getting health care they could not get."

It was the Senate's first Christmas Eve vote since 1895, when the matter at hand was a military affairs bill concerning employment of former Confederate officers, according to the Senate Historical Office.

The House passed its own measure in November. The White House and Congress have now come further toward the goal of a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's health care system than any of their predecessors.

The legislation would ban the insurance industry from denying benefits or charging higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the bill will reduce deficits by $130 billion over the next 10 years, an estimate that assumes lawmakers carry through on hundreds of billions of dollars in planned cuts to insurance companies and doctors, hospitals and others who treat Medicare patients.

For the first time, the government would require nearly every American to carry insurance, and subsidies would be provided to help low-income people to do so. Employers would be induced to cover their employees through a combination of tax credits and penalties. The legislation costs nearly $1 trillion over 10 years and is paid for by a combination of taxes, fees and cuts to Medicare.

Republicans were withering in their criticism of what they deemed a budget-busting government takeover. If the measure were worthwhile, contended Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., "they wouldn't be rushing it through Congress on Christmas Eve."

House Minority Leader John Boehner assailed the bill moments after passage.

"Not even Ebenezer Scrooge himself could devise a scheme as cruel and greedy as Democrats' government takeover of health care," the Ohio Republican said in a statement.

"Senator Reid's health care bill increases premiums for families and small businesses, raises taxes during a recession, cuts seniors' Medicare benefits, adds to our skyrocketing debt, and puts bureaucrats in charge of decisions that should be made by patients and doctors," he said. "The bill also authorizes taxpayer-funded abortions, violating long-standing federal policy. It's no coincidence that the more the American people learn about this monstrosity, the more they oppose it.

The occasion was moving for many who'd followed Kennedy, who died in August.

"He's having a merry Christmas in Heaven," Sen. Paul Kirk, D-Mass., appointed to fill Kennedy's seat, told reporters after the tally.

Kirk said he was "humbled to be here with the honor of casting essentially his vote."

Said Dingell: "This is for me, this is for my dad, this is for the country."

Reid nailed the last votes down in a rush of dealmaking in the last week that is now coming under attack because of special provisions obtained by a number of senators. In Nebraska, home to conservative Democrat Ben Nelson, the Democrats' crucial 60th vote, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of a planned Medicaid expansion in perpetuity, the only state getting that deal.

Negotiations between the House and Senate to reconcile differences between the two bills are expected to begin as soon as next week. The House bill has stricter limits on abortion than the Senate, and unlike the House, the Senate measure omits a government-run insurance option, which liberals favored to apply pressure on private insurers but Democratic moderates opposed as an unwarranted federal intrusion. Obama has signaled he will sign a bill even if it lacks that provision.

Comments (131) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
bushwhacker
39
Points
bushwhacker 12/24/09 - 08:35 am
0
0
history in the

history in the making..congratulations america for taking a step forward!

jack234
857
Points
jack234 12/24/09 - 08:45 am
0
0
We are all so proud of our

We are all so proud of our President and those with the courage to stand with him in this bold move. HELLO! and Merry Christmas.

confederate american
0
Points
confederate american 12/24/09 - 08:49 am
0
0
you just got ------ and are

you just got ------ and are to stupid to know it,thank god i don't have to buy into it,will get my care out of the country and cheaper to.

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 12/24/09 - 08:56 am
0
0
bend over real deep jackie#

bend over real deep jackie# cause barry is doing you really good....stupid sheeple.....oh well my taxes will NOT fund this farce..........................................

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
Points
BakersfieldCityLimits 12/24/09 - 09:01 am
0
0
I am going to cancel my

I am going to cancel my insurance at work on Monday. Now you suckers are on the hook for all my medical care. No more making appointments to see the doctor for me, I'm riding the ambulance to the ER. Thanks for picking up the tab.

dashiel
177
Points
dashiel 12/24/09 - 09:04 am
0
0
A dark day for Depends

A dark day for Depends Packers For Truth, but It's Christmas Eve Morning in America.

Marko
0
Points
Marko 12/24/09 - 09:05 am
0
0
Yeah it's history in the

Yeah it's history in the making. Of course America just took a giant leap backward.

justus4
124
Points
justus4 12/24/09 - 09:06 am
0
0
The Senate Bill is NOT
Unpublished

The Senate Bill is NOT "Obama's health care." What passed is the senate piece of the legislation and now must be merged with the one the House passed. The President wants to cover the 40 million Americans not covered, he ddin't care how we got there. So it's NOT his plan, it's a STEP in the right direction to get the other Americans covered. If it was his plan, the public option would have been included. Again, a great day for the American people, but these printing operations are constantly being exposed for their spin.

pizzato
3
Points
pizzato 12/24/09 - 09:15 am
0
0
When will someone one step up

When will someone one step up to the plate and take Obama out before we working people lose everything? Who will be the insurance czar under the great socialist plan he has for us. I will pray that the lord will take him in his sleep and send him staright to hell because that's where he belongs.

airbud7
1
Points
airbud7 12/24/09 - 09:16 am
0
0
income tax,ssi tax,property

income tax,ssi tax,property tax,sales tax,gas tax,exc,exc,just another TAX!!!!!!!!

iknowitwheniseeit
1
Points
iknowitwheniseeit 12/24/09 - 09:25 am
0
0
pizzato - Someone take him

pizzato - Someone take him out? Promoting the assassination of the president is a serious crime.

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 12/24/09 - 09:25 am
0
0
There are ways around

There are ways around anything barry and his goons try to do......and most of us will find them.

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 12/24/09 - 09:28 am
0
0
"He's having a merry

"He's having a merry Christmas in Heaven," Sen. Paul Kirk, D-Mass., appointed to fill Kennedy's seat, told reporters after the tally. .........OMG!! doesn't that just make you want to puke?? Just the idea that that old [filtered word]anywhere near Heaven is funny !

1941
4
Points
1941 12/24/09 - 09:28 am
0
0
confederate; Why don;t you

confederate; Why don;t you move out of the country!!! If you have the money to go outside of the country, for your health care, then what are you complaining about? People like you will never move forward, because you are still fighting the civil war!!! And by the way, you lost that fight too!!!!! Get a life!!!!

fishman960
1518
Points
fishman960 12/24/09 - 09:29 am
0
0
10 yrs into the future we

10 yrs into the future we will look back and say one of two things. This program really worked, or we will salute the flag of the United States of China. I will probably never make enough money to be on the paying end of this thing, but I am sensible. The working economy will never be able to support all of this weight.

iknowitwheniseeit
1
Points
iknowitwheniseeit 12/24/09 - 09:30 am
0
0
What a great Christmas gift

What a great Christmas gift to those millions who don't have the means or the opportunity to get health coverage. And no, they're not deadbeats, they're recent college graduates, people who have lost their jobs, and those who are not offered health care in their current job and can't afford the enormous cost and still eat. Finally, America is taking a step towards eliminating one of the most biased, expensive, and unfair systems in the free world.

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 12/24/09 - 09:35 am
0
0
iknoweit....you REALLY

iknoweit....you REALLY believe what you wrote??...sheeple just stupid sheeple following along the edge of the cliff.............

fishman960
1518
Points
fishman960 12/24/09 - 09:36 am
0
0
Someone mentioned Ross Perot

Someone mentioned Ross Perot the other day. "That sucking sound you hear is the sound of businesses moving out of the U.S.A.". He sure was right about that!

HollyHoly
0
Points
HollyHoly 12/24/09 - 09:36 am
0
0
pizzato darling that is where

pizzato darling that is where YOU are gonna end up. The "hell" part, for your evil thinking ways. You lost mr. Evil. wahahahahahahah...lol

grinder48
2320
Points
grinder48 12/24/09 - 09:38 am
0
0
Disgusting! I absolutely
Unpublished

Disgusting! I absolutely resent being forced to pay for others. This is stealing, plain and simple. Some people can't afford health insurance so the gov't steals from me to pay for them. They've stolen from me to let people who couldn't afford it to buy houses. This is absurd! I know we should have compassion for our fellow man but that should be a choice we each make individually, not a decision made on our behalf by the gov't. We simply must vote these thieves out of office!!!

iknowitwheniseeit
1
Points
iknowitwheniseeit 12/24/09 - 09:38 am
0
0
betty - are you really that

betty - are you really that blind?

Notreally
4
Points
Notreally 12/24/09 - 09:39 am
0
0
onward *screams* yeah (like

onward *screams* yeah (like howard dean) lol... congrats. and to all you haters lol hate on...

Notreally
4
Points
Notreally 12/24/09 - 09:40 am
0
0
No iknowitwheniseeit she's a

No iknowitwheniseeit she's a white woman who doesn't like that black change in DC LOL... her HATE is evident everyday in every post. I'm wouldn't be shocked if she's taking medication for hate, or will die soon from it.

augsaltwater
0
Points
augsaltwater 12/24/09 - 09:40 am
0
0
What is the point in working

What is the point in working for anything if the government is just going to take it from someone else and give it to me for free?

B.O. = Robbin da Hood

"Cash gets you to the front of the line everytime"

Its a sad sad day, merry f'n Christmas

1941
4
Points
1941 12/24/09 - 09:42 am
0
0
Pizzato; God will take you

Pizzato; God will take you before he takes the president!!You are living in hell right now becaus, you and your ilk cannot stop the president from his agenda!!! You hate the president so much,that it is slowly killing you every day!! You are pathetic!!! Congraulation Mr. President, on you agenda!! Whatever it might be!!!!

confederate american
0
Points
confederate american 12/24/09 - 09:43 am
0
0
1941 this is my south and i

1941 this is my south and i have the means to do just about anything i want.i have a life and a good one thanks to jesus christ.

1941
4
Points
1941 12/24/09 - 09:48 am
0
0
bettyboop; What were you when

bettyboop; What were you when George Bush, ran this country for eight years? STUPID!!!At least the ''sheepel'' will inhrrate the earth!!!

Notreally
4
Points
Notreally 12/24/09 - 09:48 am
0
0
LOL @ this is my south did he

LOL @ this is my south did he say THIS IS MY SOUTH LOL... it's no wonder he hates the president. FALLS OUT LAUGHING... oh wait you forty something confederate right ooopz.

1941
4
Points
1941 12/24/09 - 09:49 am
0
0
The president is speaking!!!

The president is speaking!!! All you haters run to your tv's!!!!!!!

Notreally
4
Points
Notreally 12/24/09 - 09:49 am
0
0
Confederate you should

Confederate you should captalize Jesus Christ when talking about him, he deserves that much honor. LOL I can't stop laughing at this is my south., did you buy it?

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs