Senate Prepares For Healthcare Showdown

11.20.09 |

The great healthcare debate in the U.S. Senate could get a green light this weekend. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set a key procedural vote for Saturday. The vote will determine whether the Senate formally moves to a debate on a sweeping health insurance reform bill. Democrats control 60 votes in the 100-member Senate, and 60 tallies are needed to move key issues forward. Republicans are expected to put up a united front against it. Health insurance reform is President Obama's top legislative priority this year.

 Reid unveiled the Senate Democratic healthcare bill this week. It is estimated to cost nearly 850-billion dollars over a decade. That's less than counterpart legislation that was recently approved by the U.S. House. Both measures include provisions for a government-run public option to compete with private insurance companies. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill would reduce the federal budget deficit by 130-billion dollars over ten years while expanding health insurance coverage to 31-million more Americans. Republicans say the Democratic measure will raise taxes and health insurance premiums.