Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 | 2 a.m.
- Obama welcomes ‘historic’ health care advance (12-21-09)
- Jim Gibbons attacks Harry Reid on health care bill (12-21-09)
- Health care bill clears tough Senate test (12-20-2009)
- Health care compromise gives sweet Medicaid deal to Nebraska (12-20-2009)
The Senate is keeping casino hours, racing nearly around the clock to finish the health care reform legislation by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s self-imposed Christmas deadline.
Past deadlines have come and gone, but lawmakers want to move on to pressing topics — jobs, the economy.
Reid engineered a path to passage that involves a series of votes that started at 1 a.m. Monday and could finish by 7 p.m. Christmas Eve.
It does not have to take that long. But Republicans, who oppose the legislation en masse, are using every available procedural tactic to stall or stop the bill — including requiring the full 30 hours of debate afforded each step of the process.
“This is not the naming of a post office,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.
Reid has returned fire by scheduling votes around the clock, rather than the more gentlemanly approach of, say, during business hours.
Republicans think public opinion is on their side, and they will be rewarded for forcing the vote to the final hour — despite the spectacle of 92-year-old Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia being pushed onto the Senate floor in a wheelchair for the middle-of-the-night votes.
McConnell received rousing applause from fellow Republican senators Monday as they met behind closed doors in what one aide described as a pep-rally atmosphere.
“We’re going to fight to the end,” the Republican aide said. “We’re not leaving here before Christmas Eve.”