WASHINGTON BUREAU — Members of the Senate have just voted 56-43 to pass H.R. 4872, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “fixer bill,” and the House is getting ready to re-vote on the bill.
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., did not vote. All other Republicans voted against the bill. The Democrats who voted against the bill are Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb.
Democrats have been using the budget reconciliation process rules to get H.R. 4872, the Reconciliation Act of 2010, through the Senate with just 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes that normally would be required.
Alan Frumin, the Senate parliamentarian, ruled early today that two college student aid provisions in H.R. 4872 are ineligible for consideration under budget reconciliation process rules.
Democrats are holding the re-vote on H.R. 4872 in the House to avoid the need to try to pass the bill in the House using ordinary Senate rules.
The student aid provisions would protect students from future cuts in grants if Congress does not provide enough money to pay for the grants. The provisions violate budget reconciliation process eligibility rules because they do not produce savings, according to Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
The provisions are “minor,” but because they are likely to be subject to procedural challenges on the floor, and ultimately struck from the bill, they are being removed from the bill, Manley says.
The bill is going back to the House for a new vote because the House and Senate must approve the same version of the bill before President Obama can sign the bill into law.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said today that the House would set to work on the H.R. 4872 re-vote as soon as the Senate wrapped up its work on the bill.
President Obama already has signed the PPACA bill, H.R. 3590, into law.
That bill will lead to many major changes, such as the creation of a health insurance exchange system, nonprofit health insurance cooperatives and a voluntary long term care benefits program, regardless of what happens to H.R. 4872.