Nov 10, 2009

House passes health care bill, Senate vote pending

by Matthew Coleman

Months of cutthroat politics came to a close as the House of Representatives voted in favor of the health care bill 220-215. The bill passed with one Republican voting favorably, while 39 Democrats jumped ship and voted no.

A milestone victory for Democrats and the Obama administration, the bill came within a few votes of defeat. It secured just two votes above the needed 218.

The bill was passed after a heated, 14-hour debate, according to the Wall Street Journal. When the house reached the 218 votes required, democrat representatives cheered and hugged to celebrate while the Republicans remained silent, according
to the Wall Street Journal.

Obama spoke Sunday in the Rose Garden and congratulated House Democrats on their steadfast determination, according to the Washington Post.

“Given the heated and often misleading rhetoric surrounding this legislation, I know that this was a courageous vote for many members of Congress, and I’m grateful to them and for the rest of their colleagues for taking us
this far,” Obama said.

The bill passed despite a last-minute concession preventing “federally subsidized insurance plans from covering abortion,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Introduced by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the 240-194 vote on the abortion concession passed with the support of 64 Democrats.

The abortion amendment was added to gain wavering Democrats and secure the 218 votes required to pass the health care bill, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Stupak bill will not cover abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life, according to the Associated Press. Women seeking to end pregnancy for other reasons will have to pay for services themselves or seek private insurance not funded by taxpayer dollars.

The abortion concession has been met with a wide array of emotions ranging from jubilation to resentment, according to the Wall Street Journal. Pro-life activists praised the vote as the most significant step in over a decade, while pro-choice supporters believe it places unnecessary financial strain on women seeking abortions.

The House vote does not mark the end of the health care reform debate. The bill still has to go through the Senate before President Obama can sign into law.

The primary barricade to health care reform now stands in the form of a Republican-backed filibuster in the Senate. A filibuster is an “informal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions or by any other delaying or obstructive actions,” according to senate.gov. Basically, Republicans would halt all voting procedures, forcing Democrats to give up on the bill.

Democrats will need 60 votes to thwart a filibuster and force a vote on the health care bill. While Democrats currently hold 60 of the 100 seats in the Senate, support for the bill has been waning among independents and moderate Democrats, according the Associated Press.

Senator Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, has openly voiced his opposition to any health care bill that supports a government-run public option, according to the Associated Press. Lieberman has promised to vote no on any bill with a public option, but Democrats will need the Independent vote to block a Republican filibuster.

With dissention among the Senate Democrats and Independents and the unified opposition from Republicans, the bill will not pass, according to the Associated Press.

Contact Matthew Coleman at mcoleman@liberty.edu.
 


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