On a straight party line vote held after 1 a.m., Democrats just voted 60 to 40 to cut off debate on Sen. Harry Reid’s final changes to the health care bill.
In the coming days, there will be a number of procedural votes leading up to final passage, which is expected on Christmas Eve. But that’s all a formality at this point. Democrats will get a health care bill through the Senate.
By voting in the middle of the night to block a Republican filibuster attempt, Democrats took a big step toward passing health legislation, but they’ll still encounter a number of obstacles before President Obama can sign it into law.
The version that passed the House of Representatives has both a public option and stronger abortion language. Liberals and pro-life Democrats in the House are promising a fight during the conference that will merge the two bills, and any concessions to them could upset the delicate balance in the Senate that allowed Majority Leader Harry Reid to cobble together 60 votes. With that said, so far Democrats have proven willing to cut whatever deals they need to in order to get a health care bill across the finish line, and that same dynamic is likely to play out during the remaining negotiations.
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