Senate Democrats Warn House Not to Toy With Health Bill

Senate Democrats are warning the House not to make any significant changes to the health care package heading toward a vote in their chamber if they want the bill to survive past Christmas.

FoxNews.com
12/20/2009

Do not mess with this bill.

That was the message Senate Democrats sent to their colleagues on the House side over the weekend, warning them not to make any significant changes to the health care package heading toward a vote in their chamber if they want the bill to survive past Christmas.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday won the support of the last known Democratic holdout, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., giving him the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill out of the Senate. But assuming the bill clears the Senate, negotiators from both sides will still have to work out vast differences between the House and Senate versions in what’s known as a conference committee.

Liberal Democrats are eager to negotiate and try to win back items that were stripped from the Senate bill like a government-run insurance plan. But the final version would again need 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster, and Senate moderates warn that any big changes in conference could erode that bloc.

“Anybody who’s watched this process can see how challenging it has been to get 60 votes,” Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It is very clear that the bill, the final bill, to pass in the United States Senate is going to … have to be very close to the bill that has been negotiated here. Otherwise you will not get 60 votes in the United States Senate.”

The Senate bill was heading toward a critical test vote set for after midnight early Monday.

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