"The die is cast. It's done," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), moments after 60 Democrats signaled, with a single procedural vote, that they will stick together to pass health care reform.
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As the clerk read the final tally aloud in the Senate chamber, Democrats, seated at their desks, muffled all of their emotions--enthusiasm, anxiety, relief. Sitting at his desk Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) clutched Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) and Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE)--his colleague on either side--by the arms. Members smiled and softly pumped their fists, but in accordance with the rules, the floor was mostly silent.
In the reception room just outside the chamber, Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki embraced Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and John Kerry (D-MA). Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, standing alone in the corner of the room, shouted a hearty congratulations to Dodd.
"Harry's going to almost have a drink," Schumer joked about the Mormon majority leader.