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Senate Wraps Up Saturday Session With No Progress on Health Care

The Senate adjourned for the day on Saturday afternoon with Republicans and Democrats no closer to an agreement to resume voting on amendments to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) $848 billion health care reform bill.With only one procedural vote on the omnibus spending bill Saturday morning, lawmakers used the day’s session to continue the general debate over health care reform, often delving into arcane details of the legislation. For instance, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) used his floor speech to make the case the bill could limit marriage rates because married couples could pay higher health care premiums under the bill.Earlier in the day, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill) had discussed the possibility of voting on several health care amendments — including tax-related proposals by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), as well as two drug importation provisions by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), respectively. Republicans also offered to drop a drug importation amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) if Democrats would give them time agreements on two further amendments. But by day’s end, no deals had been struck to resume voting on the health care bill. A Democratic aide said that while Reid would likely address the offer during Sunday’s session, negotiations on Saturday did not appear to have broken the legislative logjam. Reid is racing to get a reform package approved by Christmas. But he’s put the issue largely on ice as he awaits a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of a compromise on the public insurance option by 10 liberal and moderate Democrats. That CBO score could come Monday. Earlier in the day, the Senate voted 60 to 34 to invoke cloture on a $446.8 billion omnibus spending bill. The Senate is expected to resume work Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and take a final vote on the omnibus at 2 p.m.

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