Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., center, answers questions outside of the Senate chambers on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, after the Senate passed the health care reform bill. From left are, Senate Finance Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Reid, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Ill., and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn..
(AP Photo/Mannul Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats passed a landmark health care bill in a climactic Christmas Eve vote that could define President Barack Obama’s legacy and usher in near-universal medical coverage for the first time in the country’s history.
“We are now finally poised to deliver on the promise of real, meaningful health insurance reform that will bring additional security and stability to the American people,” Obama said shortly after the Senate acted.
“This will be the most important piece of social legislation since Social Security passed in the 1930s,” said Obama, standing with Vice President Joe Biden in the State Room of the White House.
The 60-39 vote on a cold winter morning capped months of arduous negotiations and 24 days of floor debate. It also followed a succession of failures by past congresses to get to this point. Biden presided as 58 Democrats and two independents voted “yes.” Republicans unanimously voted “no.” More.