Healthcare and the holidays
It’s Christmas Eve and there is a lot more stirring than just a mouse. In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Senate just voted to approve a wide-ranging healthcare overhaul bill with Democrats and Republicans divided as they have ever been.
All 60 Democrats voted for the legislation while 39 Republicans opposed it (Republican Senator Jim Bunning was absent), ending a month-long marathon debate in the Senate with the first Christmas Eve vote in more than a century (1895).
In what some could interpret as a sign of just how important this legislation is to President Barack Obama’s agenda, his vice president, Joe Biden, presided over the session serving in his dual role of president of the Senate.
Now lawmakers will have the task early next year of trying to meld the two different versions of healthcare legislation that passed the Senate and House of Representatives, with Republicans vowing a tough fight.
“This fight is long from over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law,” said Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
With the Senate vote done, that cleared the way for senators to head home finally and Obama to head off to the sunny skies and warm sand in Hawaii where he will spend the holidays with his family. Luckily he has Air Force One to get him there as a major winter storm is moving through the Midwest which could snarl plans for many trying to make it home for the holidays.
Already a few flights out of one major hub for Northwest Airlines, Minneapolis-St. Paul, has been canceled this morning and that is expected to um, well, snowball down to Chicago and elsewhere.
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– Photo credit: Reuters/Hugh Gentry (spectators gather for a surfing competition in Hawaii)