By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 24, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Slightly after 7 a.m. the morning of Christmas Eve, the U.S. Senate voted to pass President Obama's health care overhaul, paving the way for the House and Senate bills to be reconciled before a final vote in both chambers early next year.
The body of lawmakers burst into applause after voting to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 along a strict party line divide, 60-39.
The Senate parliamentarian required only a simple majority for the final passage. However, a significant question as to whether the measure should have required 66 votes remained unanswered by Senate leaders.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) argued Tuesday that, because the newly-revised bill contains explicit changes to the Senate rules, it should only be passable with a 2/3 majority - or 66 votes - according to the regular procedure. Presiding officer Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) denied the charge, however, claiming that the changes were to Senate procedure, not rules.
One change in question renders it illegal for a section governing the controversial Independent Medicare Advisory Board, once called the "death panels," to be repealed or changed by any future Congress.
GOP leaders had a foretaste of Democrats' willingness to break procedure last week when parliamentarian Alan Frumin illegally cut off a Republican stall tactic. "We don't want to be obstructionists on any policy they're willing to deal with fairly, but no one can say that this is a fair process, when they basically have a parliamentarian in their back pocket," Sen. DeMint told the Washington Times. Full article.