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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Health Care Lite Unveiled in Senate

WASHINGTON (CN) - Democratic senators revealed their health care proposal Wednesday evening, sparking anticipation of a vote on the Senate floor over the bill they said would cost $849 billion over 10 years and extend coverage to 94 percent of Americans.

The announcement came with the release of the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill. Senators, who had been waiting for the analysis before beginning debate on the bill, are expected to vote later this week on whether to bring it to the floor.

The Senate bill is largely more moderate than the bill passed out of the House more than a week ago. The $849 billion Senate bill is less than the $1 trillion House bill and the bill before the Senate would extend coverage to 94 percent of the population, smaller than the House's 96 percent.

But the Senate bill outdoes the House bill in deficit reduction by cutting the deficit by $130 billion over the course of ten years, more than the $104 billion cut predicted under the House bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who took part in the evening announcement, met with a number of swing senators Wednesday.

Many see the narrow passage of the health legislation out of the House - with a 220 to 215 vote - as a sign that passage in the Senate will be difficult and some even predict a Republican filibuster.

While Democrats - who control 60 votes - would only be able to overcome a Republican filibuster if they are completely united, 60 votes aren't actually required to pass health care legislation in the Senate.

The bill only needs the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and reach the Senate floor, where it can be further debated. Once the legislation reaches the floor, it only needs 51 votes to pass.

This means that Democrats who are opposed to the public option may decide to join their party in overpowering a Republican filibuster, allowing the bill to reach the floor. At that point, they can vote against the bill, where it might still pass without their support.

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