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Senators negotiating deal on final timing of health, debt-limit votes

By Paul Kane
Senate leaders are close to reaching a deal that would move up a final vote on President Obama's health-care legislation and also approve a temporary lift of the national debt ceiling, allowing a brief Christmas Eve session to settle the final issues on the 2009 congressional calendar.

With snow and ice storms threatening the Midwest, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are in final negotiations to move up the time of the votes to early Thursday, according to senators and aides. Under the current schedule, Republicans could stretch out the health-care debate until almost 10 p.m. Thursday in what would be the first Christmas Eve session of the Senate since 1963.

Such a timeline would make traveling home all but impossible until Christmas morning, and the threat of bad winter weather over Midwestern hub airports in Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis -- which serve as destinations or connection points for roughly half the Senate -- has created an extra sense of urgency to close the chamber early Thursday.

McConnell, after an early morning procedural vote Tuesday, said he was "working on an agreement that would give certainty" to senators' schedules. Republicans had been threatening to string out debate on final passage of the health-care bill until the very last hour permitted under chamber rules.The offering would include moving up the votes until Thursday, either just past midnight or not long past breakfast time. This would require Democrats to agree to allow the Republicans to offer up to four amendments to the debt limit legislation when it comes up for a longer-term extension in February.

"That's in the air," Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Tuesday.

The debt-limit legislation has become a large political football for Democrats. Republicans have turned what is normally a rote annual exercise as the national debt has climbed to more than $12 trillion into a tough legislative maneuver this year, criticizing Democrats and the White House for spending "like drunken sailors" on Obama's domestic agenda without making any formal commitment to reining in the federal deficits.

Democratic deficit hawks have been demanding either a bipartisan commission that would have power to make spending cuts or implement pay-as-you-go rules that would require Congress to fund any new spending or tax cuts by requisite revenue increases through cutting spending in other programs or hiking other taxes. With those Democrats refusing to back a larger expansion of the debt limit, those talks dragged on throughout the fall and early winter without any resolve, so Democratic leaders decided to pass a temporary extension worth almost $300 billion. That will allow the Treasury to continue to manage the national debt through February, when Congress hopes to act on a longer-term fix.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 22, 2009; 12:43 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Health Care  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama to delay start of vacation
Next: Obama reaches out to African Americans


It is very obvious that the media is democrat they will only tell you what they want and never really come out and tell it all, as long as it is not in there favor

Posted by: jesus-delva | December 23, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I am a Republican who crossed the fence in the last election. In my opinion, my Republican party had gotten itself entirely too focused on being socially conservative and forgotten about the core Republican values of being fiscally conservative. I saw a need for change.

Here is what I voted for:

President Obama Barack Obama would bring about a change all Americans could believe in.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

The previous administration spent unwisely and expanded the national debt to unheard of proportions.

“I found this national debt, doubled, wrapped in a big bow waiting for me as I stepped into the Oval Office.” President Barack Obama

Barack Obama and his team would change how things were done in the Federal Government and there would be no more back room deals.

“It's time to fundamentally change the way that we do business in Washington. To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent.” Barack Obama

Pork Barrel politics would end and President Obama would see to it personally. (Incidentally, this was the statement that sealed my vote. It wasn’t flowery speech, just a simple, straight forward statement.)

“We need earmark reform, and when I'm President, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.” Barack Obama

Here is where we have devolved to in less than a year:

Any Senator who does not have an unnecessary earmark in this bill should be ashamed of themselves.

"I don't know if there is a senator that doesn't have something in this bill that was important to them. And if they don't have something in it important to them, then it's -- [it] doesn't speak well of them," he said.” Senator Harry Reid

Compromise means buying votes with earmarks.

"If you will read the bill ... you will find a number of states are treated differently than other states. That's what legislation is all about: compromise," he said. "We worked on different things to get a number of people's votes." Senator Harry Reid

We’ve given up on changing Washington. It will always be this way.

"Every senator uses whatever leverage they have to help their states. That's the way it has been. That's the way it will always be." White House Chief Spokesman, David Axelrod.

I don’t want the folks in power to point to failures of past administrations as justification for their like failures. I want change. This healthcare bill, along with the process that is being use to gain it passage, is a mess. I’m tired of mess. President Obama promised "line by line" and that is what I want to see. Minus that, he has failed.

Posted by: bstruthers | December 23, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

This is only going to but us in more debt, why are they doing this when they know we dont want it, and they dont want it for themselves they are keeping there own health insurance, for which we are going to be paying more for. I want to know what are they getting out of this?

Posted by: jesus-delva | December 23, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

None of this matters. Lawsuits are being filed by State Prosecutors in seven states today contending that the giveaway to Nebraska in exchange for Nelson's vote is unconstitutional given that the entire union doesn't get IT'S Medicare funded into perpetuity. Odd that the Post has not a word of this in their cheer leading for this thievery.

The whole thing will be overturned in court unless of course these folks are willing to shred the Constitution in order to put this mess in place.

Posted by: JamesChristian | December 23, 2009 6:04 AM | Report abuse

Get more updates about Health care issues here:

Posted by: fozzy13mailbox-ler | December 23, 2009 3:59 AM | Report abuse

The rEPUBLICANS delayed consideration of this bill as long as they could hoping that at least one DEMOCRAT would not show up to vote. With that in mind, the democrats do not owe them anything but tough love. Let them get their turkey by FEDEX two or three days late.

Posted by: bfred1 | December 23, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

This passed because liberals want the federal government to pay for abortions. It is painfully obvious that progressive liberals hate children, or at the least do not value them.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | December 22, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Senate Health Reform Bill Results
The results are still trickling in, but we have some pretty stable results from the Silver Buzz Cafe blog’s poll on the Senate health reform bill and they’re not pretty. First, the demographics. So far, the split between respondents is approximately 22% Democratic, 52% Independent and 26% Republican, with 85% of the total believing that health care reforms are necessary. Males outnumbered females three to one, with 60% of respondents aged 21-55, 30% aged 56-65 and 10% over 65. Not surprisingly, all respondents, so far, are from the United States, with 27% of them being retired. [...]

Posted by: verna2 | December 22, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Note: to Harry Reid

Republicans wanted this extended please give it to them. They fought you every step of the way, which is the minoritys right, BUT please make them pay for it!!

No amendmants and no time home with the family until after Christmas. Why would you even think about doing this?
If they can pray that a democrat would not show up...perhaps they also can pray for some good weather so they can get home by Christmas Day!!

Grow a set, Harry!!!

Posted by: ncpinkpanther | December 22, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

What do the Dems get in exchange for the "up to four amendments to the debt limit legislation"?

To hold the healthcare vote a few hours earlier?

If that's it... F that.

"The love you take is equal to the love you make."
Republicans contributed No Votes (not even Cloture Votes) to the process... so give them nothing in return.

What's the deal with Republicans inserting Amendments into legislature that they then vote against?

If you add an amendment to a bill... in order for that amendment to stand the member who inserted it should have to vote in favor of the legislature.

Why do Dems let Republicans water-down bills, that they have no intention on voting for?

Dems are looking more and more like WOPs... "Bring[ing] a Knife to a Gun Fight."

Posted by: mcgrupp10799 | December 22, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama and the majority party in Congress are one step closer to ramming a healthcare bill the American people do not want down our throats. It is time to VOTE THEM OUT!

Obama has reneged on his campaign promise of transparency. It is time to VOTE HIM OUT!

Obama has reneged on his campaign promise of non-partisanship. It is time to VOTE HIM OUT!

The majority party in Congress has given huge handouts to a few senators at the expense of those of us who live in all the other states. It is time to VOTE THEM OUT!

The majority party in Congress has used back room deals and late night votes to confuse and mislead the American people. It is time to VOTE THEM OUT!

Obama and The majority party in Congress have engaged in reckless spending that will severely impact the standard of living of future generations. It is time to VOTE THEM OUT!

Obama and the majority party in Congress are responsible for the biggest intrusion into our private lives in the history of the country and the biggest perversion of our economic system as well. Obama is pointing us to a future of stagnation. It is time to VOTE THEM OUT!

Posted by: AngryMobVoter | December 22, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Stop cutting deals with the devil. Dems have got to learn to play hardball. How many times do you have to get beaned before you charge the plate?

If you want to reduce the deficit target regugnican states that have been the recipient of Govt. largess for years: states like Georgia, Texas, South and North Carolina.
Then sit back and watch them squirm and scream.

Posted by: atroncale1 | December 22, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The first Drunkin sailor was Ronald Reagan who doubled the nation debt in his 6th year, unbeleiveably creating more debt than the 40 previous presidents combined in over 200 years.

"Debt doesn't matter," Reagan said.
"Debt doesn't matter," echo his Republican successors, "unless a Democrat is president."

No honor, no truth from those Republicans.
Vote them all out of office in 2010.

Posted by: chucky-el | December 22, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse


What good is health care reform when thousands of unconstitutionally targeted Americans are silently tortured with secret microwave/laser weaponry?


• Regional Homeland Security- administered fusion centers use a nationwide microwave/laser radiation "directed energy" weapons system employing cell towers and satellites to silently torture, impair, subjugate unconstitutionally "targeted" Americans and their families -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight.
OR (if links are corrupted / disabled): RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | December 22, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

No. No need to give the republotards anything else they want. They have already said they want to drag healthcare out until the last possible moment. After letting them drag it out this long, there's no reason to cut any deals with them now.

F'em! Sleep in the Senate on Christmas morning for all I care.

Posted by: Heerman532 | December 22, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

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