First Edition: December 22, 2009
The big news today follows two main themes -- the Senate's march toward Democrats' Christmas eve deadline for passing a health reform bill; and, the challenges that will be involved when the House and Senate versions of the overhaul are reconciled.
Health-Care Vote Means Senators Will Spend Christmas Eve At The Capitol
It's the bill that stole Christmas. Behind each cranky senator dealing his or her way toward a historic Christmas Eve vote on health-care reform is a cadre of staff members laboring day and night to make sense of the ever-changing 2,457-page bill, tutor their bosses, spin the press and break down what it means for constituents back home (The Washington Post).
Senate Still On Track For Final Christmas Eve Vote On Healthcare
A final vote on the Senate healthcare bill is on track to happen Christmas Eve. Republicans signaled Monday they're considering allowing the vote before Dec. 24, but that seems unlikely given that their entire conference would have to agree (The Hill).
Senators Ready To Cast Second Of Three Votes On Health-Care Bill
Senators prepared to cast the second of three procedural votes early Tuesday to end the health-care debate, but Republicans showed little indication that they were ready to relent in a standoff that could push passage of the legislation to the latter part of Christmas Eve (The Washington Post).
Public Option Tensions Linger
Just hours after a critical Monday morning vote in the Senate, Democrats were already talking about future changes to the health reform effort in hopes of calming a revolt among liberal activists (Politico).
Strange Days, Late Nights On Capitol Hill
Snowbound Senate aides have been crashing in Capitol Hill hotels, paying the bill out of their own pockets. Senators are rolling up to the Capitol steps past midnight and before dawn to vote. While much of America is wrapping gifts and posting holiday cards, the Senate is grappling with parliamentary rules and filibusters, locked in a bitter partisan battle as the Democratic majority fights a united GOP opposition to win passage of its sweeping health care bill before a self-imposed Christmas deadline. After a weekend of almost round-the-clock work, partisan tensions are running high, and a certain weariness has settled on the proceedings. Even the hot dog machine in the basement of the Capitol has run out of hot dogs (The Boston Globe).
Senate, House Health Bills Must Be Merged
Just because the Senate is close to the finish line in terms of passing a health care overhaul bill, doesn't mean the marathon is over. The next big step is to marry the Senate bill with the House bill (NPR).
Democrats Hope To Reconcile Senate, House Bills
Democratic leaders are planning swift negotiations in January to reconcile the House and Senate health-overhaul bills and settle differences on abortion, taxes and a government-run health plan (The Wall Street Journal).
Democrats Face Challenge In Merging Health Bills
Even as the Senate took a significant step toward passing its version of a sweeping overhaul of the health insurance system before Christmas, Democrats were grappling Monday with deep internal divisions over abortion, the issue that most complicates their drive to merge the Senate and House bills and send final legislation to President Obama (The New York Times).
Three Big Differences Between House And Senate Healthcare Bills
At heart, the House and Senate versions of healthcare reform legislation are very much the same. Both require virtually all Americans to have health insurance, while offering low- and middle-income people subsidies to make that mandate more affordable. Both would establish new marketplaces, called "exchanges," where individuals who don't get insurance from employers could buy coverage (The Christian Science Monitor).
Republicans Take Aim At Deal-Making
Republicans on Monday slammed the provisions Democrats inserted in their far-reaching health-care overhaul bill at the last minute to win over individual senators (The Wall Street Journal).
Medicare Changes, 'Cadillac' Tax Complicate Debt Picture
Even before Senate passage this week, health care reform is the new elephant in the budget room, reshaping the landscape for the next big fight over the growing federal debt and demands for deficit reduction (Politico).
Both Sides Question Health Bill's Abortion Compromise
The abortion language that was added to the Senate's health-care bill to win the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has achieved a rare feat: It is drawing contempt from both sides (The Washington Post).
Cosmetic Surgeons Get Reid To Tax Tanning Salons Instead
Doctors were able to surgically remove the so-called Botax from the Senate's health-care overhaul bill and replace it with a 10% tax on tanning services (The Wall Street Journal).
Senate Health Bill Aftershocks Begin
Senate Democrats may not give final approval to their health care bill until Christmas Eve, but the parties have already moved on to the next fight: defining the measure in the minds of the public (Politico).
Now Democrats Must Sell Health Plan To Voters
With a healthcare overhaul inching closer to reality, Democrats looking to next year's midterm elections plan to market the bill as a way to help voters who are focused more on unemployment and the economy (Los Angeles Times).
Americans' Views Of Health Care Steady this Year
The public's views on health care have stayed largely steady this year, despite dramatic swings in the political battle over President Barack Obama's drive to revamp the nation's medical system, a survey says (The Associated Press).
Senators Overseeing Health Bill Debate Get Dose Of PAC Money
As the health care bill moves toward a critical vote in the Senate, the five senators charged with overseeing the floor debate count health interests among their biggest campaign contributors, records show (USA Today).
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