Senate secures majority to pass health bill
21 December 2009
US Senate Democrats on Saturday closed ranks in support of legislation to overhaul the nation's healthcare system, clearing a path for the quick passage of President Barack Obama's top domestic policy.
The administration aims to expand coverage for the 47 million uninsured Americans in its first year in office, which is expected to lead to the biggest changes in American healthcare in decades (See: Obama proposes $634 billion healthcare spending in 10 years).
Senate majority leader Harry M Reid secured the crucial 60th vote necessary for the bill to pass the Senate with the support of lone ruling party dissident senator Ben Nelson who vowed that he will not support the bill as it was not clear on the abortion laws, demanding tighter rules.
Reid acceded to Nelson's demands along with increased federal aid for his home state.
Now, votes could begin in the Senate later today with final passage possible by Christmas Eve.
"Change is never easy, but change is what's necessary in America," Nelson said at a news conference, announcing his support.