Scroll for updates…8:15pm Eastern. Backroom Harry Reid wrapped up the hurry-up debate with a screen bashing Bush, likening GOP opposition to Demcare to supporting slavery, and then complaining about the need for “discussion” and “democracy” while assailing Republicans for taking their case to the American people. Final cloture vote 60-39. GOP Sen. Voinovich absent. Ghost of Teddy Kennedy presiding.
The bribes are working.
The Senate is steaming ahead toward tonight’s Saturday cloture vote on Demcare.
The “moderate” Democrats are falling like flies.
With her $100 million – $300 million special payoff in hand, Louisiana’s Sen. Mary Landrieu announced this afternoon that she’ll march behind Harry Reid.
@Christinakb dubs it “Cash for Cloture.”
Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln followed shortly after — which gives Dingy Harry his 60.
“The truth is this issue is very complex. There is no easy fix and it’s imperative that we build on what’s already working in health care in America,” Lincoln told her Senate colleagues.
Hours earlier, Landrieu had delivered her news. The two represent votes 59 and 60 for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who needs that many in the 100-member Senate to go forward. The Senate’s 40 Republicans are unanimously opposed.
“I’ve decided that there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward, but much more work needs to be done,” Landrieu said, with the 8 p.m. EST vote looming.
Most everyone would be required to purchase insurance under Reid’s legislation, and billions in new taxes would be levied on insurers and high-income Americans to help extend coverage to 30 million uninsured. Insurance companies would no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people with medical conditions or drop coverage when someone gets sick.
A largely overlooked provision in the Senate bill would send $100 million to Louisiana to help it cover costs for Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor. In her speech, Landrieu rejected the notion that she was voting to advance the bill simply because of the money.
“I am not going to be defensive about asking for help in this situation,” she said, recalling the devastation inflicted on her state by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and her Republican governor’s support for the provision. “I’m proud to have asked for it. I’m proud to have fought for it. And I will continue to.”
Both Landrieu and Lincoln vow to vote against the Demcare public option…later.
Update 8:15pm Eastern. Here’s the AP piece reporting the cloture vote tonight. It left out all the hysterical rhetoric of Harry Reid, but made sure to mention the invocation of Teddy Kennedy.
I’m watching Reid/Dodd presser right now. Reid mumbles that Ted Kennedy was watching over them tonight. Widow Vicky called him right after vote.
Harkin: “I can’t think of a better vote to have right before Thanksgiving.”
Baucus is not at the presser (left to be with sick mother).
Reid again talking about Kennedy: “Ted would be happy.”