Moments ago, the Senate passed a comprehensive health care reform bill by a vote of 60-39, ending more than four weeks of contentious floor debate.
“This morning is not the end of the process,” Reid reminded his colleagues and progressives dissatisfied with the Senate bill. “It’s only the beginning.” “We must strive for progress and not surrender for want of purity,” he said, promising to build on reform in the years to come.
The chamber erupted in laughter several times during the vote, most notably when Reid initially cast the wrong vote and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) missed the first round of roll call, running into the chamber in the middle of the vote.
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest serving Congressperson in the nation’s history, cast his vote saying, “Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye.”
Watch the highlights:
Republicans opposed the bill. “I guarantee you the people who voted for this bill will get an earful, when they finally get home for the first time since Thanksgiving,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said. “This fight isn’t over…my colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.”
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) was the only senator who didn’t vote on the measure. The bill will now move into a conference committee where it will be reconciled with its House counterpart.
Ezra Klein notes:
It’s been a long time since the legislative system did anything this big, and people have forgotten how awful the victories are. But these are the victories, and if they feel bad to many, they will do good for more.
,Reid honors Kennedy:
“This is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not nearly a privilege for the select few. This morning’s vote brings us one step closer to making Ted Kennedy’s dream a reality,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave in a post-vote press conference.
,Sens. Nelson (NE) and Lieberman look forward to conference:
LIEBERMAN: “Our work is not over… Splitting the difference here could well break the 60 vote consensus.
NELSON: “Obviously you can always make things more affordable. More affordable for individuals, less affordable for our government and taxpayers.”
,Reid joked of his flubbed vote: “I spent a very restless night last night trying to figure out how I can show some bipartisanship.”
,President Obama responds: “Having passed reform bills in both the House and the Senate, we now have to take up the last and most important step and reach an agreement on a final reform bill that I can sign into law. I look forward to working with members of Congress in both chambers over the coming weeks to do exactly that. With today’s vote, we are now incredibly close to making health insurance reform a reality in this country. Our challenge then is to finish the job.”