The Senate voted along party lines tonight to avoid a GOP filibuster and move forward with debate on historic health care legislation. The final vote was 60-39, with Ohio Republican George Voinovich not voting. The AP reports that the “spectator galleries were full for the unusual Saturday night showdown, and applause broke out briefly when the vote was announced. In a measure of the significance of the moment, senators sat quietly in their seats, standing only when they were called upon to vote.” Full debate will begin after Thanksgiving.
Immediately after the vote, the White House put out a statement saying, “The President is gratified that the Senate has acted to begin consideration of health insurance reform legislation.” RNC Chairman Michael Steele complained that “a number of moderate Democrats sacrificed their principles to give Harry Reid a victory that brings America dangerously closer to having a government-run health care system.” Igor Volsky has been following tonight’s debate over on the Wonk Room.
On Wednesday, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that Voinovich had planned on missing tonight’s vote:
If the first procedural vote is delayed until Saturday, Voinovich won’t be around Washington to participate. He’s got an anniversary to observe — his 30th since being elected Cleveland’s mayor in 1979 — and he’s going to spend it with his old team. It’s not that Voinovich’s vote won’t matter, but he’s in the “no” column already, and Reid needs 60 “yes” votes just to move to the next procedure.