Members of the Senate today voted for a tight time limit on the final round of debate on the Senate health bill, and to approve a motion to hold the final vote on passage at 7 a.m. Thursday, rather than at 8 a.m.
Supporters said the schedule change would help make it slightly easier for senators to get home for Christmas.
Senators voted 60-39, entirely along party lines, for a cloture resolution that is expected to prevent Republican opponents from keeping H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act bill, off the floor with a filibuster, or endless round of debate.
Senators also held a series of other votes. They formally agreed 60-39 to let Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., replace the original text of H.R. 3590 — which would have created a tax break for members of the armed forces who were buying homes — with the text of the PPACA bill.
Senators voted 39-60 to defeat two Republican “points of order” suggesting that H.R. 3590 is unconstitutional.
Sen. James DeMint, R-S.C., had better luck with efforts to get the Senate to ban the practice of trading earmarks for votes. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said enforcing the measure would be impractical. But the DeMint proposal lost by a vote of just 53-46, and DeMint attracted the support of 7 Democrats: Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Russell Feingold, D-Wis.; Claire McCaskill, D- Mo.; Jeffrey Merkley, D-Ore.; Ben Nelson, D-Neb.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; and James Webb, D-Va.