Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery
Sunday, Dec 20th, 2009
Senate Democrats said Saturday that they had closed ranks in support of legislation to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, ending months of internal division and clearing a path for quick Senate passage of President Obama’s top domestic policy priority.
Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) secured the pivotal 60th vote after acceding to the demands of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) for tighter restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions, along with increased federal aid for his home state and breaks for favored health-care interests.
[efoods]“Change is never easy, but change is what’s necessary in America,” Nelson said at a morning news conference, announcing his support as a snowstorm raged outside.
Speaking at the White House, Obama said it appears that a vote is certain on a bill that would provide coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans. “After a nearly century-long struggle, we are on the cusp of making health-care reform a reality,” said Obama, who had dispatched senior administration officials to help lock down Nelson’s support.
Republicans excoriated the bill as a threat to Medicare — cuts to the program for the elderly would offset much of the cost — and to the employer-based insurance system, which provides health coverage to most Americans.
“This bill is a monstrosity,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “This is not renaming the post office. Make no mistake — this bill will reshape our nation and our lives.”