Early this morning, Senate passed a crucial step toward final passage of the healthcare bill.
In a 60-40 vote, Senate approved a procedural motion, a cloture vote, to move the legislation to a final vote later this week.
The vote taken this morning is the first of three procedural measures the bills needs to pass before the final vote. The final vote is scheduled for Christmas Eve. Despite Republican attempts to delay the bill, late last night motion started moving in favor of bill supporters.
The healthcare bill would give coverage to 30 million currently uninsured Americans and ban many current insurance procedures.
Both parties knew the weight of their vote. “Let’s make history,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa at the turning point of the debate. Senators voted from their desk, a tradition reserved for the most important bills and many guest viewed the vote.
The debate was extremely divided. No republicans voted for the bill. Even moderates such as Sen. Olympia Snowe, who originally backed a former version of the bill, now has a few reservations including the arbitrary deadline.
“This bill is the product of years of hard work, study and deliberation,” said Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), “These are the reforms for which Americans have been waiting.”
Sen. John McCain on “Good Morning America” refers to the polls about healthcare reform when expressing his views. “They had 60 percent of the Senate, [but] 60 percent of the American people are against this,” McCain said.
Obama and his administration are still hopeful about the bill and its ability to transform the health care system. White House senior political adviser David Axelrod said, “It’s not perfect. And over time, it may improve.”
Democratic senators are careful to not celebrate too soon. Even though one big hurdle has been crossed there are still two more major obstacles before the bill becomes law.