Health Bill Passes Key Test in the Senate With 60 Votes


DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and ROBERT PEAR
The New York Times
December 21, 2009

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Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, announced his support of the bill on Saturday.

WASHINGTON — After a long day of acid, partisan debate, Senate Democrats held ranks early Monday in a dead-of-night procedural vote that proved they had locked in the decisive margin needed to pass a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health care system.

The roll was called shortly after 1 a.m., with Washington still snowbound after a weekend blizzard, and the Senate voted on party lines to cut off a Republican filibuster of a package of changes to the health care bill by the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada.

The vote was 60 to 40 — a tally that is expected to be repeated four times as further procedural hurdles are cleared in the days ahead, and then once more in a dramatic, if predictable, finale tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Both parties hailed the vote as seismic.

Democrats said it showed them poised to reshape the health system after decades of failed attempts.

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