The Senate vote on health care reform has been the Holy Grail for Barack Obama all year. At last, the Senate vote on health care reform came last night, to give the President a Christmas victory – so he hopes. After an entire year of heavy debate, name calling, and compromises, President Obama finally got the last draft of his health bill passed by the Senate.
The 60-39 Senate vote on health care reform allows him to say he got a bill passed by 2010. But the debate over whether it was worth it may carry on into 2012.
Fittingly, the health bill passed in a deeply divided fashion, to reflect this entire debate. All 58 Democrats and two independents voted for the bill, although it took a lot of deals and compromises to even get that. The ‘Blue Dog Democrats’ and Joe Lieberman did more in the end to almost kill this bill than the Republicans did. But the GOP was little help either, as 39 of them voted ‘nay’ and one lone Republican, the retiring Jim Bunning, abstained from voting.
The health bill passed along party lines as much as possible – though Republicans had an easier time getting a unanimous vote for their side. There may still be some concessions left to make, as the Senate bill must be combined with the House bill, before President Obama can sign it into law. Given his obsession with getting something signed soon, the President will try to move this along as quickly as possible.
The Associated Press frames the Senate vote on health care reform as a “landmark” that will “usher in near-universal medical coverage.” Disenchanted liberals still calling for an immediate public option, or single payer system, may beg to differ. So would conservatives who call the very idea of health care reform unconstitutional, at least in this incarnation.
The President wanted a comprehensive, bipartisan bill to resolve the health care debate, and may get none of those things – except an actual bill. Though the Senate voted for health care reform, their changes may not go into effect for several years. But its most immediate impact may be in 2010 and 2012, as the Obama administration staked their future, and the future of the Democratic majority, on this issue.
If their base remains extremely disappointed, and their enemies become even more committed to getting them out, then the bill could be an albatross. If a positive impact comes through quickly – and if the administration finds a more successful key issue in 2010 – then they can get some popularity back before the midterms.
The Senate vote on health care reform showed how their bill may be closer than ever – though some unintended consequences may be closer as well. This debate only made things more divided, and may have made the administration’s path to history even harder – let alone the path to deeper reform.
Yahoo News- “Senate OK’s health care measure, reaching milestone”
Christian Science Monitor- “Senate health care vote: ‘defining’ moment or ‘abomination’?”
Politics Daily- “Senate Passes Sweeping Health Care Reform, but Trouble Lies Ahead”