Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery
December 19, 2009
|Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care.|
Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, announced to his colleagues Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas of President Obama’s top domestic policy priority.
Asked if he had secured the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) told reporters, “It seems that way.”
The Senate is expected to work its way through a series of procedural motions over the next few days, with a vote on the legislation scheduled the evening of Dec. 24th. A conference with the House to produce a final bill would likely extend into January, Senate aides said.
Congressional budget analysts said the revised package, unveiled Saturday morning by Reid, would spend $871 billion over the next decade to extend coverage to more than 30 million Americans by dramatically expanding Medicaid and offering federal subsidies to those who lack affordable coverage through employers.