News

    Senate Democrats Unite to Advance Key Health Care Reform Bill

    The Senate has voted by 60 to 40 to close debate on landmark health care reform legislation backed by U.S. President Barack Obama and fiercely opposed by Republican lawmakers. Now, the divided chamber appears to be heading towards a vote to pass the bill on Thursday, Christmas Eve.

    Multimedia

    It was the middle of the night in Washington, but all 100 senators were gathered in the Capitol for a key procedural vote on health care reform legislation.  Democrats needed every single one of the 58 Democrats in the Senate, plus the two independents who normally vote with them, to vote for cloture, which limits debate and Republican delaying tactics, and they got it.  All 40 Republicans voted against cloture.

    "On this vote, the yeas are 60 and the nays are 40.  Three fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn, having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to."

    Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada had been working day and night for weeks to get the 60 votes he needed, amid tireless efforts by Republicans to delay and obstruct passage of a bill they strongly oppose.

    Moments before the vote, Reid read from letters sent to him by people in his home state of Nevada who are sick and unable to get necessary medical care.  Senator Reid cited a Harvard University study that says on average, one American dies every ten minutes because of a lack of health insurance.

    "This country, the greatest and richest the world has ever seen, is the only advanced nation on earth where dying for a lack of health  insurance is even possible," Reid said. "

    The bill would extend health insurance coverage to 30 million Americans who now lack it, and bar insurance companies from practices such as denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.  Most Americans would be required to purchase health insurance for the first time, with subsidies provided to those who cannot afford it. 

    Senate Minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky summed up Republican opposition, saying the bill is too expensive and does not fix the problems with the current health care system.

    "Tonight marks the culmination of a long national debate," McConnell said. "Passions have run high and that is appropriate. Because the bill we are voting on tonight will impact the life of every American.  It will shape the future of our country.  It will determine whether our children can afford the future they inherit."

    Senator McConnell conceded that Democrats have the votes they need, but he said they will face political consequences if the bill passes.

    As wrangling over the bill has continued for months, public support for the initiative, President Obama's top domestic priority, has declined.  But passage would still be viewed as a major political victory for the president.

    Conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson announced his support for the bill Saturday after long negotiations with Senator Reid, giving Democrats the 60 votes they needed.  They will need those 60 votes again for a series of procedural votes this week, leading up to a vote on the actual health care bill now likely to take place  Thursday evening, Christmas Eve.


    If the bill passes in the Senate, that version will have to be merged with a more liberal version passed by the House of Representatives which includes a government-run alternative, not included in the Senate version.   So there is likely to be more wrangling and possibly more late night votes on Capitol Hill in January.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora