Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Reid gets sixty votes; debate to begin in United States Senate on healthcare reform

It's nice to see Senate Democrats finally voting in unison for a change:
The Senate voted on Saturday to begin full debate on major health care legislation, propelling President Obama’s top domestic initiative over a crucial, preliminary hurdle in a formidable display of muscle-flexing by the Democratic majority.
Don't expect this to become a habit. Several ConservaDem senators (cough, ahem, like Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson) have flatly stated they won't vote for healthcare reform if it includes a public option. Because that would make their corporate taskmasters unhappy. And they wouldn't want that.

The sixty to thirty nine vote was strictly along party lines, so Pacific Northwest senators voting yes were Democrats Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Max Baucus, Jon Tester, and Mark Begich. Pacific Northwest senators voting no were Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Mike Crapo, and Jim Risch.

In a statement sent to NPI, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said:
The President is gratified that the Senate has acted to begin consideration of health insurance reform legislation. Tonight’s historic vote brings us one step closer to ending insurance company abuses, reining in spiraling health care costs, providing stability and security to those with health insurance, and extending quality health coverage to those who lack it. The President looks forward to a thorough and productive debate.
Several of our Democratic senators have released statements to NPI also responding to tonight's vote. Here's Patty Murray:
The successful vote tonight took our country one step closer to finally reforming our broken health care system and at long last helping millions of families and small business owners get the coverage they need at a price they can afford.

As we begin debating this bill on the floor of the Senate, I continue to call on my colleagues across the aisle to rise above partisanship and work with us to provide families across the country with stable, affordable health insurance coverage.

Our health reform bill will lower costs for families and small business owners. It will ensure that no one will be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition or go bankrupt if they get sick. And it finally makes insurers compete for the business of the American people.

For months, as I have worked on this bill, I have fought to ensure that the needs and priorities of Washington state’s families and businesses are preserved. I will continue to tell the stories of Washington state businesses and families as we work to pass a bill that makes our nation and economy healthier and stronger.
Jeff Merkley:
This debate is far from over, but we have now come further than any Congress in a generation in completing the difficult task of fixing health care. I look forward to continuing to fight for reforms that will make health care more accessible and affordable for all Americans. And I hope that my colleagues who opposed even having a full discussion about this issue will realize how important it is that the Senate debate health care reform.

The health care system is no longer working for working Americans. Too many are without insurance; too many others fear they will lose coverage when they need it most. Health care costs are bankrupting families and hampering business growth. We must act now to contain costs, expand access to coverage and reform the insurance industry practices that have made even those with insurance fearful as to what will happen should they become ill or injured.
And Maria Cantwell:
This vote represents a major step toward a goal that has eluded us for generations: a significant reform of our nation’s health care system. Despite partisan differences, a remarkably strong consensus has formed over our basic aims: maintaining quality, reining in out-of-control costs, and covering the uninsured. During debate, I intend to work with my colleagues to preserve the many strong measures in the bill and to strengthen provisions that will further drive down costs for families and businesses.
Thanks to each of them for standing strong in the face of Republican obstructionism. The challenge only gets tougher: Now Majority Leader Reid has to actually get a bill out of the U.S. Senate and into conference committee. Corralling ConservaDems on a procedural motion is one thing, but getting them to vote against insurance companies and HMOs for a progressive, substantive bill is another. If there was ever a time to whip the caucus, these next few months will be it.


Blogger Martha Koester said...

Despite all the extra nice options, this is overpriced, mandate underinsurance.

November 22, 2009 3:21 AM  

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