Senate Approves Defense Bill, Moves Ahead on Health Care

Posted December 19, 2009 at 7:33am

The Senate voted 88-10 in favor of a $636 billion Defense appropriations bill early Saturday morning, clearing the way for consideration of a final health care measure that Democratic sources say is on pace to pass before Christmas Day.

Senators trudged through as much as 20 inches of snow for the Saturday session. This is the third weekend session for the Senate this month, something Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised he would do to ensure passage of his health care overhaul.

Reid is expected to unveil the package’s details to his Democratic colleagues during a special Caucus meeting this morning. The caucus is set to begin at 9 a.m.

According to leadership aides, Reid has reached a deal with moderate Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), viewed as the last remaining Democratic holdout. Reid, Nelson and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) negotiated over the bill’s abortion language for much of the day Friday.