Senate to Debate Health Care After Thanksgiving

Courtesy of Nnpa | 11/26/2009, midnight

It€s now the U. S. Senate€s turn to debate its version of a health care bill. The 100 members voted 60-39 on Nov. 21st to move the bill to the Senate floor.

The 60 included all Democrats and the only two independent senators - a political reality that all but guarantees a sharply divided vote between Democrats and Republicans on the final version of the bill after the debate is complete. The Senate will begin the debate over the 10-year, $848 billion plan after the Thanksgiving break.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the more than 2000-page bill, would extend health insurance to 31 million additional Americans who have no coverage. He said the debate will begin on Monday, Nov. 30.

The sticking point in the bill that will cause most debate will be a public option for people who have no jobs or means of paying for health care coverage. But, because the Senate's version of the public option is more moderate than the House's version, the option is not expected to stop the bill.
Civil rights leaders and members of the Congressional Black Caucus have insisted on the public option. Another focus of heavy debate will likely be funding for abortion, which has been decried by Republicans.

The House has already passed its version of the bill. If the Senate passes a bill, the two must be reconciled into one; then voted on again by both houses before being signed by President Obama.