December 22, 2009

The Senate got past the second filibuster on the compelling video game that is health-care reform, with one level left. While the final vote is theoretically scheduled for Christmas Eve, I saw Sen. Claire McCaskill on my teevee this morning saying that Republicans are trying to drag it out so that members won't be able to spend Christmas with their families.

Now, Claire, while I'm sympathetic to a point (yes, the Republicans are obstructionist scum), if this legislation is really a historic achievement (albeit one that will force many Americans to stretch their finances to the limit to comply), I don't especially care that your holiday schedule is mildly inconvenienced.

But that's just me!

The Senate cleared the second of three key procedural hurdles on President Obama's health-care legislation early Tuesday with another party-line vote, continuing the effort to pass the bill before Christmas.

All 60 members of the Democratic caucus supported the measure to finalize amendments to the health-care package, while 39 Republicans opposed it.

A third procedural vote is expected Wednesday, with final passage of the bill likely to come late Thursday -- Christmas Eve.

Although they lack any obvious way to torpedo the bill at this point, Republicans remain bitterly opposed to the legislation and have shown little indication that they are ready to relent in their increasingly negative standoff with Democrats.

On Monday, hours after a crucial 1 a.m. vote to end a Republican filibuster, the American Medical Association officially endorsed the legislation, while Democratic leaders defended the dealmaking that has brought the $871 billion package to the brink of passage.

Lacking the votes to block the bill, Republicans heaped scorn on the many concessions made to wavering Democrats in the quest to advance the package. GOP critics warned that support for the effort could mean the demise in 2010 of vulnerable incumbents, including Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.).

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