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Senate Debates Historic Health Care Bill


8:08 p.m.: The Senate votes 60-39 for cloture--and, by agreement, the motion to proceed itself, thus clearing the way for debate to begin next week.

7:55 p.m.: The vote is beginning.

7:49 p.m.: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is making the last statement of the night before the vote. Ten minutes to go.

7:48 p.m.: I just saw Robert Byrd enter the Capitol. All Democrats are on hand. That's 60.

7:17 p.m.: Here's Max Baucus, safely returned from Montana where he'd been staying with his ailing mother. Democrats can't afford a single absence, and there had been some question of whether he'd be able to return in time for the vote.

5:44 p.m.: A few minutes ago, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called Medicaid a "medical ghetto"... hmmm....

4:18 p.m.: Here's the priceless moment from this morning, when Reid dissed David Broder.

3:28 p.m.: A Democratic Senate aide tells me people aren't too pleased that Schumer's been wheeling and dealing on the public option.

2:36 p.m.: Lincoln just went on quite a tear against the public option. "Let me be perfectly clear. I am opposed to a new government administered health care plan as a part of comprehensive health insurance reform, and I will not vote in favor of the proposal that has been introduced by Leader Reid as it is written.... I've already alerted the Leader and I'm promising my colleagues that I'm prepared to vote against moving to the next stage of consideration as long as a government-run public option is included."

2:26 p.m.: She's in.

2:20 p.m.: Lincoln takes the floor. Wait for it...

2:00 p.m.: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will take the floor in about 20 min. Assuming she announces her vote (and assuming that vote is 'yes') we can all relax until the vote at 8 p.m.

1:47 p.m.: Apologies for the silence. Some reporters and I tracked down Landrieu after her floor speech. She had some interesting things to say, including that she believes Reid will have to choose between a triggered public option and a health care bill, and that Sen. Chuck Schumer is at the heart of negotiations over that controversial compromise.

12:52 p.m.: "My vote today to move forward on this important debate should in no way be construed by the supporters of this current framework as an indication of how I might vote as this debate comes to an end," Landrieu said. "After a thorough review of the bill...I have decided that there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward, but much more work needs to be done."

12:48 p.m.: Landrieu says Blanche Lincoln will come to the floor to discuss her views later...

12:45 p.m.: Here's Mary Landrieu to make it official.

12:31 p.m.: BREAKING: The Democrats' communication staff tweets that Landrieu will vote yes on the motion to proceed tonight.

12:16 p.m.: In his typically convincing way, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) makes the case for health care reform and the public option.

12:04 p.m.: BREAKING: Landrieu will speak on the floor at 12:25 p.m.

11:46 a.m.: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) will not be voting for health care reform today. His Louisiana colleague Mary Landrieu on the other hand...

11:38 a.m.: Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is pointing to one of those graphs Republicans use, with a line shooting upward arbitrarily to show that the Democrats' _________ plan is very expensive. Science! Also, David Brooks thinks he's very, very handsome.

11:24 a.m.: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) takes a break from filibustering judicial nominations so he can filibuster the health care bill. The emerging line of critique from Republicans is that Reid is hiding the cost of the bill by pushing back the start-date of the legislation, thus shrinking the subsidy burden the government will bear between today and 2019. They're basically right. But it's not as if they'd all vote for reform en masse if Reid reversed the gimmick.

11:21 a.m.: Bond cites insurance-industry study by PricewaterhouseCoopers to attack reform--like making the Exxon-case for climate change denialism.

11:10 a.m.: Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) also does not much care for health care reform legislation.

11:00 a.m.: Remember when President Obama wanted Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) to be his Commerce Secretary? That was weird. Well, now he's on the floor railing against health care reform.

10:55 a.m.: Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) stumping for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. [ASIDE: Clearly the best thing about this bill is that it doesn't have the words "defending" or "America" in its title.]

10:36 a.m.: In case you want to hear all about how choice is the answer to the health care crisis, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is on the floor right now.

10:24 a.m.: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) now speaking. In case you're not familiar, he looks like a smaller version of Evan Bayh.

10:15 a.m.: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) starts it off for the Democrats, discussing the need for anti-trust laws to apply to the insurance industry. "Let's not hide under our desks because we're afraid to stand up and vote and debate."

10:00 a.m.: Gavel in!

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at

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