Senate Democrats sealed a 60-vote majority needed to advance health care legislation Saturday...
WASHINGTON (AP) - In a show of unity, Senate Democrats sealed a 60-vote majority needed to advance health care legislation Saturday ahead of an evening showdown with Republicans eager to doom the bill and inflict a punishing defeat on President Barack Obama.
Two final holdouts, Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, announced in speeches a few hours apart on the Senate floor they would vote to clear the way for what is expected to be a bruising, full-scale health care debate after Thanksgiving.
At a 10-year cost approaching $1 trillion, the measure is designed to extend coverage to roughly 31 million who lack it, crack down on insurance company practices that deny benefits, and curtail the growth of spending on medical care nationally.
"It is clear to me that doing nothing is not an option," said Landrieu, who noted the legislation includes $100 million to help her state pay the costs of health care for the poor.
"It's a massive increase in government, as shown by this bill," Mr. Ensign told a reporter off the floor later, spreading his arms wide as if to encompass the stack of papers that comes in at more than a foot tall and, according to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, weighs in at more than 20 pounds.
The bill contains the word "tax" 511 times and includes 18 tax hikes, according to Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative lobby group. It uses the word "require" more than 1,000 times, the word "shall" more than 3,500 times, and talks about studies required by the bill 150 times.