Democrats prevent filibuster in health reform vote, Christmas Eve passage likely

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The U.S. Senate could be just two days away from passing a massive healthcare reform package, based on reports out of the nation's capital that the Democrats have attained a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority.

Just after midnight Monday morning, the Senate approved a bill with 383-pages of changes to the reform package. The 60-40 vote down party lines came after Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) -- at least temporarily -- dropped their opposition to various provisions and joined with the rest of the Democratic caucus. Many political observers viewed the vote as a test-run for the final bill, which is scheduled for a vote at 7 p.m. Thursday (Christmas Eve).

Once a Senate bill is passed it still would have to be merged with the House reform bill, which could prove to be an even more contentious process than the past few weeks. The House version contains a public insurance option, allows illegal immigrants to purchase insurance through a government exchange, and severely restricts abortion services╤all provisions that do not appear in the Senate bill, and all provisions some congressmen would call deal-breakers.


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