WASHINGTON, D.C. — There has always been the question of how senators would vote on their chamber’s final health-care reform bill. It’s one thing to vote to end debate, the logic goes, and another to back the bill.
But in the first vote on the bill’s final language — and with just a simple majority required — Democrats kept all 60 members of their coalition in line, though no Republicans backed it.
This morning’s vote approved the final draft language of the Senate health-care reform plans. The requirement, championed by Sen. Al Franken and others, that 85 percent of health insurance premiums in large group plans, and 80 percent in others, be spent on health care will officially be in there. So, too, will Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s breast cancer awareness campaign and others.
Senators are scheduled for another series of procedural votes Wednesday that, if everything goes as expected, would set up a final vote on the package about 6 p.m. Central Time Christmas Eve.
There are so many procedural votes because health care reform in the Senate is essentially an amendment to another bill — and this morning’s vote was on an amendment to that amendment. While most bills before the Senate are handled by unanimous consent, Republicans have demanded Democrats take all those votes.
That’s mostly to slow the bill and partially in hopes that one Democratic senator might flip his or her vote and stop the bill entirely.
Oddly enough, the placeholder bill that health-care reform will be attached to Wednesday is almost entirely unrelated to health care at all — it deals with homeownership tax credits for military service members. Under Congress’ complex rules, that’s sometimes just the way the game is played.