Sunday, November 8, 2009

House passes health bill, on to Senate

With the passage of the House version of the health care reform bill passing last night, the issue now moves to the Senate, which must pass its own version.

Since it is expected that the Republicans will try to filibuster the senate bill, there are two ways that the Democrats can beat a filibuster.

The most common method would be a vote for cloture to stop debate on the legislation, which requires 60 votes. There are 58 Republicans and two Independents, but one of the latter, Joe Lieberman, has said that he will support a filibuster. Not known whether any Republicans will break ranks. Olympia Snowe from Maine is probably the best bet although she has said she doesn't support an opt-out public option. The other senator from Maine, Susan Collins, is another possible crossover Republican. She's known to be quite moderate and pragmatic.

If the Democrats do not have enough votes for cloture, there is parliamentary procedure that can allow them to force a vote with a simple majority of the 100 senators, i.e., 51 votes. A move of this type was used to pass the Civil Rights Act.

If a senate bill should pass, the two houses of Congress will then work to reconcile the two versions and a final vote will be taken.

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