Health care bill clears first Senate hurdle

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, shows copy of the Democratic health care reform bill during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. From left are, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., McConnell, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Ariz., Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

November 21, 2009 5:15:02 PM PST
Sweeping health care legislation has cleared its first hurdle in the Senate on a party-line vote. The 60-39 vote clears the way for a historic debate after Thanksgiving on the legislation. The measure is designed to extend coverage to an estimated 31 million Americans who lack it and crack down on insurance industry practices that deny benefits.

The vote came in a rare Saturday session in the Senate.

Democrats posted 60 votes in a Senate showdown, precisely the number needed to overcome Republican delaying tactics.

The vote was a major victory for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the White House in a year-end drive to enact the most sweeping changes to the nation's health care system in a half-century or more.


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