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Final Vote On Senate Health Care Bill – Passes 60-39

They’re nothing if not prompt. Voting has begun on HR 3590, the Senate’s health care bill. It only needs 50 votes to pass; the only suspense is whether or not it will receive all 60 Democratic votes. C-SPAN is using the special running tally it reserves for important votes.

That’s it. Arlen Specter, the former Republican, secures the 50th vote needed for passage. David Broder cries.

Jim Bunning didn’t show up. So the final tally on HR 3590, the Senate health care bill, is 60-39. All Democrats vote for passage. Joe Biden reads the tally. A cheer goes up in the gallery.

There’s now a vote on raising the national debt limit for two months, which is expected to pass, but in all likelihood without Republican votes, which would be the first time in recorded memory that such a vote is partisan. We could get into which party is responsible for the overwhelming majority of that debt, but again, I don’t want to upset David Broder.

UPDATE: And the statements are rolling in. Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO immediately pivots from congratulations on passage to demands that the final bill improve.

In the face of inexcusable partisanship, obstruction and gamesmanship, it is remarkable that Majority Leader Reid was able to move a health care bill through the United States Senate. Not since the passage of Medicare 44 years ago have we seen Republican scare tactics so blatantly contrary to the interests of the American people.

At this historic moment, it is so important to the future of working Americans—and to our country—to get health care reform right. Despite doing some good things, the Senate bill remains inadequate. Substantial changes must be made in the final bill.

Genuine reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance companies accountable, assure that all Americans can get the health care they need and be financed fairly.

That’s why we have been steadfast in support of a public health insurance option. It is the way to break the stranglehold of the insurance industry that has led to skyrocketing health care costs that have especially penalized small business.

Employers must pay their fair share.

It makes no sense to tax the benefits of hard-working Americans to pay for health reform. The House bill curbs insurance companies and taxes the wealthy who benefited so richly from the Bush tax cuts. The Senate bill instead includes exorbitant new taxes on middle class health benefits that would affect one in five workers with employer-provided health coverage—or about 31 million people—in 2016. That’s the wrong way to pay for health care reform and it’s political suicide.

The House bill is the right model for reform. It covers more people, takes effect more quickly and is financed more fairly. The AFL-CIO is ready to fight on behalf of all working families to produce a final bill that can be called genuine reform. Working people cannot accept anything less.

Richard Kirsch of HCAN, not surprisingly, says about the same thing:

“With passage by the Senate, the nation has moved one big step closer to comprehensive health care reform. Health Care for America Now will work to get the strongest bill to the President’s desk, one that provides good, affordable coverage to all and holds insurance companies accountable. To realize the promise of reform, we need to be sure that employers are required to help pay for good coverage for their workers, that premiums are affordable to families, that we do not tax benefits, that we enact tough insurance regulations, and that we offer the choice of a public health insurance option. We will urge President Obama to work with leaders in both houses of Congress to agree on legislation that meets these goals, guaranteeing good health coverage we can count on.”

So the positioning has begun in force.

The debt limit got the same 60-39 vote. That’s truly unbelievable.

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David Dayen

David Dayen