NOTE: We are live-tweeting the Senate vote for cloture on the motion to proceed at @wonkroom.
This afternoon, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) took to the Senate floor to announce that she would vote on a motion to proceed with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Landrieu is the 59th Senator to commit to voting to open debate on the floor. Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried (D-NV) would still have to secure the support of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) to begin considering the legislation.
In her remarks, Landrieu stressed that she was concerned about the bill’s costs to small businesses and individuals, the possible premiums spikes families could face in the time between when the bill passes and its reforms are implemented, and reiterated her opposition to a public health insurance option:
My vote today to move forward on this important debate should in no way be construed by the supporters of this current framework as an indication of how I might vote as this debate comes to an end. It is a vote to move forward to continue the good, and essential, and important and imperative work that is underway….We must enhance and expand tax credits that are in this bill that are for small businesses, particularly those of 25 and less and if we can expand it between 25 and 50, that would be a great help…I will continue to fight for more tax equity for the 27 million Americans who are currently self employed…in order to really deliver on our promise to lower costs for families focus on ways for premiums to be excessively raised between the time this bill is enacted and the time these provisions go into affect … I remain concerned that the current version of the public option included in this bill could shift significant risk to tax payers over time, unnecessarily…I’ve suggested that a free-standing community option…
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Landrieu also directly responded to “some very partisan Republican bloggers” who suggested that she agreed to support the bill only after Reid included “an extra $100 million in federal aid for low-income people in her state. “The Louisiana money is intended to adjust the percentage of federal payments to the state for Medicaid to avert a scheduled cut in U.S. assistance in 2011 for the program, which provides medical care for the poor. Louisiana had a bump in per capita income from the post-Katrina construction boom, which would force the decline in federal aid.”
Landrieu explained that following the hurricane, “some of those one-time recovery dollars were calculated into our per-capita income” and inflated the state’s income. As a result, the state is scheduled to receive less matching fund for the Medicaid program. “It is the number one request of my Governor, who is a Republican and it is unanimously supported by every member of our delegation, Democrat and Republican. I’ m proud to have asked for it. I’m proud to have fought for it, and I will continue to,” she said.
At around 2:20pm, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) announced that she too would vote for the motion to proceed, giving Reid the 60 votes necessary to debate the bill on the floor. Lincoln insisted that she will vote against “moving to the next stage” of the debate and the bill if it includes a public option:
Although I don’t agree with everything in this bill, I have concluded that I think it’s more important that we begin this debate to improve our health care system for all Americans rather than just drop the issue and walk away….I will vote in support of cloture on the motion to proceed to this bill. But madam President, let me be perfectly clear, I’m opposed to a new government health care plan as a part of health care reform and I will not vote in favor of the proposal that has been introduced by leader Reid as it is written….I’ve already alerted the leader, and I’m promising my colleagues that I’m prepared to vote against moving to the next stage of consideration as long as a government-run public option is included.