Saturday, December 19, 2009


It looks like Senate Democrats have finally corralled Ben Nelson, senator from Nebraska, who has been holding out on health care reform.

Here's an article this morning from The New York Times website by Robert Pear, David M. Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse reporting on the breakthrough.

Write Pear, Herszenhorn and Hulse:

"As the Senate convened in a driving snowstorm, Democratic leaders said a breakthrough came when Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, agreed after 13 hours of negotiations on Friday to back the bill, making him the pivotal 60th vote.

"“Change is never easy, but change is what’s necessary in America,” Mr. Nelson said during a morning news conference. “And that’s why I intend to vote,” he said, “for health care reform.”"

But Republicans still feverishly oppose any health care reform and they seem intent to use Senate procedures to run out the clock before Christmas recess.

Report Pear, Herszenhorn and Hulse:

"The majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, racing against the clock to complete the bill by his self-imposed holiday deadline, introduced a 338-page package of last-minute amendments, including the key provisions needed to win Mr. Nelson’s support.

"Republicans, who vowed to use every procedural weapon to stop the bill, immediately forced a reading of the Mr. Reid’s, which was expected to take 10 hours and had to be done by midnight to keep Democrats on track for a final vote on Christmas Eve."

Even Sen. Olympia Snow (R-Maine) seemed poised to vote against the bill even though she has shown that she is for health care reform overall.

The Senate is working through four consecutive weekends in an attempt to pass the bill by Christmas. Last night and today, the snow is falling heavily in the D.C. area. Report Pear, Herszenhorn and Hulse:

"The snow flying outside the Capitol added to what has already been a chaotic few weeks for the Senate, which has met every day since Nov. 30 and was convened for the third consecutive weekend.

"The sergeant-at-arms had four-wheel drive vehicles at the ready to bring senators in for votes. And while senators wore the jackets and ties required on the Senate floor, dress shoes gave way to snow boots. Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, who is 92 years old and uses a wheelchair, received an ovation from colleagues when he arrived in the chamber."

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