GOP Agrees To Move Up Final Senate Vote On Health Care Bill To Early Christmas Eve

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Tuesday afternoon that the Senate has scheduled a vote on the final passage of its health care overhaul bill for around 8 a.m. EST on Thursday, Christmas Eve, after Republican leaders agreed to a deal to speed up the procedure.

Roll Call: "Under the agreement between Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), votes on final passage of the health care bill and a two-month extension to the debt limit sometime before early afternoon on Christmas Eve. Republicans also have secured the right to offer between two to four votes to the long-term debt limit extension, which is expected to come to the floor sometime in February" (Stanton, 12/22).

Washington Post: Before the agreement, Republicans could have stretched "out the health-care debate until almost 10 p.m. Thursday in what would be the first Christmas Eve session of the Senate since 1963. …The debt-limit legislation has become a large political football for Democrats. Republicans have turned what is normally a rote annual exercise as the national debt has climbed to more than $12 trillion into a tough legislative maneuver this year" as they criticize the Democrats for spending without making any formal commitment to reining in the federal deficits (Kane, 12/22).

Bloomberg: "After the vote on final passage, the Senate will vote to extend the government’s legal borrowing authority by another $290 billion, according to an agreement announced by Senate party leaders on the floor. The deal also gives the Republicans the opportunity to offer a series of amendments to long-term debt-extension legislation that must be passed by mid-February."

Also President Barack Obama, "who is scheduled to spend the Christmas and New Year's holidays with his family in Hawaii, said he would stay in Washington until the Senate finishes its work. 'If they're making these sacrifices to provide health care to all Americans then the least I can do is to be around and provide them any encouragement and last-minute help,' he said at the White House" (Gaouette and Jensen, 12/22).

Associated Press: "Since the Democrats lined up the 60 votes needed prevail in the Senate, they have been shutting down Republican opposition to their 10-year, nearly $1 trillion bill to expand coverage and try to slow increasing medical costs. Passage would set the stage for negotiations to resolve differences with the House-passed bill" (12/22).

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