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Democrats Consider Options to Advance Health Care Bill

Senate Democrats emerged from a closed-door strategy session on health care Wednesday vowing to pass a reform bill by year’s end and determined to overcome Republican opposition that has delayed early votes on the bill.Democratic leaders said they would keep the Senate in session straight through Christmas if necessary, and Senators said they were willing to spend the last week of the year on Capitol Hill if necessary. Senators were light on the details of how they intend to pass a bill this year in the face of GOP delay tactics but said they were considering a range of options.Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the majority could begin moving to table Republican amendments if the GOP insists on unreasonably lengthy debates for every proposal. As of Wednesday afternoon, no votes had yet to be held on the three amendments currently under consideration.“Well, I’m almost to the point of saying that, if this goes much further, then it’s obvious … they really don’t want to have an honest debate, they don’t want to have up-or-down votes,” Harkin told reporters after the health care meeting. “We could have had a vote last night; we could have had a vote today. They won’t allow that. So, it seems to me, we have to then — since they’re doing that kind of tactic — then we’re just going to have to start moving to table amendments.”“We’re on the third day now of no votes, and I think it’s becoming clear that what’s happened is, there’s just a stall,— Harkin added.Republicans denied Democratic charges that they are stalling for political purposes, saying they simply want a full and fair debate on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) $848 billion bill. Reid has already told the Senate to expect to work this coming weekend, and every weekend thereafter until Christmas.

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