I'm sure most have heard by now. This is all so dastardly and frustrating, sickening really. Can't believe it's happening. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Senate floor speech, given about 1a EST this morning right before the vote is a sobering must read....
Tonight marks the culmination of a long national debate. Passions have run high. And, that's appropriate because the bill we are voting on tonight will impact the life of every American. It will shape the future of our country. It will determine whether our children can afford the nation they inherit. It is one of the most consequential votes any of us will ever take. And none of us take it lightly....
But make no mistake: if the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn't be forcing this vote in the dead of night.
Here are just some of the deals we've noticed:
$100 million for an unnamed health care facility at an unnamed university somewhere in the United States - the bill doesn't say where - and no one will even step forward to claim it.
One state out of 50 gets to expand Medicaid at no cost to itself - while taxpayers in the other 49 states pick up the tab.
The same Senator who cut that deal secured another one that benefits a single insurance company - just one insurance company - based in his state.
Do the supporters of this bill know all this? Do they think it's a fair deal for their states, for the rest of the country?
The fact is, a year after this debate started few people could have imagined that this is how it would end - with a couple of cheap deals and a rushed vote at one o'clock in the morning. But that's where we are.
And Americans are wondering tonight: How did this happen?
So I'd like to take a moment to explain to the American people how we got here, to explain what happened - and what's happening now.
Everyone in this chamber agrees we need health care reform. The question is how?
Some of us have taken the view that the American people want us to tackle the cost issue, and we've proposed targeted steps to do it. Our friends on the other side have taken the opposite approach.
And the result has been just what you'd expect.
The final product is a mess - and so is the process that's brought us here to vote on a bill that the American people overwhelmingly oppose.
Any challenge of this size and scope has always been dealt with on a bipartisan basis. The senior Senator from Maine made that point at the outset of the debate, and reminded us all how these things have been handled throughout history.
The Social Security Act of 1935 was approved by all but 6 members of the Senate. The Medicare and Medicaid Acts of 1965 were approved by all but 21. All but 8 senators voted for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Americans believe that on issues of this importance, one party should never be allowed to force its will on the other half of the nation. The proponents of this bill felt differently.
In a departure from history, Democrat leaders put together a bill so heavy with tax hikes, Medicare cuts and government intrusion, that, in the end their biggest problem wasn't convincing Republicans to support it, it was convincing the Democrats.
In the end, the price of passing this bill wasn't achieving the reforms Americans were promised.
It was a blind call to make history, even if it was a historical mistake - which is exactly what this bill will be if it's passed. Because, in the end, this debate isn't about differences between two parties, it's about a $2.3 trillion dollar, 2,733-page health care reform bill that does not reform health care and, in fact, makes its price go up.
"The plan I'm announcing tonight," the President said on September 9th, "will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government."
"My plan," the President said, "would bring down premiums by $2500 for the typical family..."
"I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit," the President said, "either now or in the future."
And, on taxes? "No family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase," he said.
He said he wouldn't cut Medicare.
People who like the plans they have wouldn't lose their coverage.
And, Americans were promised an open, honest debate. "That's what I will do in bringing all parties together," then-Senator Obama said on the campaign trail, "not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN."
That was then, and this is now.
But here's the reality: the Democrat bill we're voting on tonight raises health care costs. That's not me talking -- that's the administration's own budget scorekeeper.
It raises premiums -- that's the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office talking. It raises taxes on tens of millions of middle class Americans.
And, it plunders Medicare by half a trillion dollars It forces people off the plans they have -- including millions of seniors.
It allows the federal government for the first time in our history to use taxpayer dollars for abortions.
So a President who was voted into office on the promise of change said he wanted lower premiums. That changed. He said he wouldn't raise taxes. That changed. He said he wanted lower costs. That changed. He said he wouldn't cut Medicare. And, that changed too.
And, twelve months and $2.3 trillion later, lawmakers who made these same promises to their constituents are poised to vote for a bill that won't bend the cost curve, that won't make health care more affordable and that will make real reform even harder to achieve down the road.
Now, I understand the pressure our friends on the other side are feeling, and, I don't doubt for a moment their sincerity.
But, my message tonight is this: the impact of this vote will long outlive this one frantic, snowy weekend in Washington. Mark my words: this legislation will reshape our nation.
And, Americans have already issued their verdict: they don't want it. They don't like this bill -- and they don't like lawmakers playing games with their health care to secure the votes they need to pass it.
Let's think about that for a moment. We know the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to this bill.
And yet, the people who wrote it won't give the 300 million Americans whose lives will be profoundly affected by it so much as 72 hours to study the details.
Imagine that: when we all woke up yesterday morning, we still hadn't seen the details of the bill we're being asked to vote on before we go to sleep tonight.
How can anyone justify this approach? Particularly in the face of such widespread and intense public opposition.
Can all of these Americans be wrong? Don't their concerns count? Party loyalty can be a powerful force. We all know that.
But Americans are asking Democrats to put party loyalty aside tonight -- to put the interests of small business owners, taxpayers, and seniors first.
And there's good news -- it's not too late.
All it takes is one. Just one. One can stop it -- or every one will own it.
My colleagues: it is not too late.
FYI, this morning's dead-of-night vote was a cloture vote.Posted by: Cranky Catholic at December 21, 2009 10:16 AM
Nelson sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver...just before Christmas...Posted by: RSD at December 21, 2009 10:20 AM
Nelson screwed Nebraskans by renegging on his pro-life platform that got him elected. And he tried to make up for it by getting Nebraskans free Medicare at no cost to their state for eternity. The citizens of Nebraska have got to feel dirty. They are an independent bunch and did not ask to be freeloaders. And they have got to feel even dirtier anytime they use Medicare now knowing that they are getting their health care on the backs of aborted babies.....eewwwPosted by: truthseeker at December 21, 2009 10:45 AM
A similar procedure was adopted in the United States of America in response to the actions of isolationist senators who attempted to talk out, or filibuster, a bill to arm U.S. merchant ships. President Woodrow Wilson urged the Senate to change its rules to thwart what he called a "little group of willful men", to which the Senate responded by introducing cloture in the form of Rule 22 on March 8, 1917. Cloture was invoked for the first time on November 15, 1919, during the 66th Congress, to end filibuster on the Treaty of Versailles.
The cloture rule originally required a supermajority of two-thirds of all senators "present and voting" to be considered filibuster-proof. For example, if all 100 Senators voted on a cloture motion, 67 of those votes would have to be for cloture for it to pass; however if some Senators were absent and only 80 Senators voted on a cloture motion, only 54 would have to vote in favor. However, it proved very difficult to achieve this; the Senate tried eleven times between 1927 and 1962 to invoke cloture but failed each time. Filibuster was particularly heavily used by Democrat Senators from Southern states to block civil rights legislation.
In 1975, the Democratic Senate majority, having achieved a net gain of four seats in the 1974 Senate elections to a strength of 61 (with an additional Independent caucusing with them for a total of 62), reduced the necessary supermajority to three-fifths (60 out of 100). However, as a compromise to those who were against the revision, the new rule also changed the requirement for determining the number of votes needed for a cloture motion's passage from those Senators "present and voting" to those Senators "duly chosen and sworn". Thus, 60 votes for cloture would be necessary regardless of whether every Senator voted. The only time a lesser number would become acceptable is when a Senate seat is vacant. (For example, if there were two vacancies in the Senate, thereby making 98 Senators "duly chosen and sworn", it would only take 59 votes for a cloture motion to pass.) 
The new version of the cloture rule, which has remained in place since 1975, makes it considerably easier for the Senate majority to invoke cloture. This has considerably strengthened the power of the majority, and allowed it to pass many bills that would otherwise have been filibustered. (The Democratic Party had held a two-thirds majority in the 89th Congress of 1965, but regional divisions among Democrats meant that many filibusters were invoked by Southern Democrats against civil rights bills supported by the Northern wing of the party.) Some senators wanted to reduce it to a simple majority (51 out of 100) but this was rejected, as it would greatly diminish the ability of the minority to check the majority.
The three-fifths version of the cloture rule does not apply to motions to end filibusters relating to Senate Rule changes. In order to invoke cloture to end debate over changing the Senate Rules, the original version of the rule (two-thirds of those Senators "present and voting") still applies.
The procedure for "invoking cloture," or ending a filibuster, is as follows:
* A minimum of sixteen senators must sign a petition for cloture.
* The petition may be presented by interrupting another Senator's speech.
* The clerk reads the petition.
* The cloture petition is ignored for one full day during which the Senate is sitting (If the petition is filed on a Friday, it is ignored until Monday, assuming that the Senate did not sit on Saturday or Sunday.)
* On the second calendar day during which the Senate sits after the presentation of the petition, after the Senate has been sitting for one hour, a "quorum call" is undertaken to ensure that a majority of the Senators are present.
* The President of the Senate or President pro tempore presents the petition.
* The Senate votes on the petition; three-fifths of the whole number of Senators (sixty with no vacancies) is the required majority; however, when cloture is invoked on a question of changing the rules of the Senate, two-thirds of the Senators voting (not necessarily two-thirds of all Senators) is the requisite majority.
After cloture has been invoked, the following restrictions apply:
* No more than thirty hours of debate may occur.
* No Senator may speak for more than one hour.
* No amendments may be moved unless they were filed on the day in between the presentation of the petition and the actual cloture vote.
* All amendments must be relevant to the debate.
* Certain procedural motions are not permissible.
* The presiding officer gains additional power in controlling debate.
* No other matters may be considered until the question upon which cloture was invoked is disposed of.
The ability to invoke cloture was last attained by a US political party in the 111th Congress, by the Democrats, with the help of two independents.Posted by: xalisae at December 21, 2009 11:24 AM
Thank you. Maybe I missed it - Is there a legal requirement to actually read the bill one is passing, or is that always optional? (No need to answer.)
God gave the vast majoirty of us two eyes, a nose, two ears, two arms, and two legs and a few of us some brains.
He did not give us a Social Security card or a Obamacare Card or License to Steal from my Neighbor Card.
In fact he said, "if a man does not work, he should not eat". Or, if a person is able to work and doesn't, let him starve.
As in everything the Democrats and Republican turncoats do in pursuit and obedience to everything ungodly, unbiblical, and Satanic, they prove who they are....wolves in sheep's clothing.
This bill proves that the US are in a major decline. Our country is financially bankrupt being led my morally bankrupt people who themselves are headed for a future so horrific they don't have a clue. "To much is given, much is expected". Senators and Congressman, all of you, you have really, really blown it and have led our country into destruction.Posted by: Phil Schembri is Hisman at December 21, 2009 12:27 PM
What can I say? It could have been worse.Posted by: Phillymiss at December 21, 2009 1:19 PM
Our country is financially bankrupt being led my morally bankrupt people who themselves are headed for a future so horrific they don't have a clue.
Well said, Hisman. The silver lining is that we do not have to follow where they are leading. If the progressives succeed in legislating socialized health care, they will face monumental hurdles to implement it.
One thing we know about our government is that it is never efficient. A hundred new agencies and bureaucracies and thousands of new appointees at the pig trough are not likely to be effective in dismantling the current system or countering civil disobedience. We the People cannot prevent our corruptocrats from passing bad health care legislation. But we do have power to peacefully thwart its implementation. The progressives win only when the American people collectively surrender their freedom. I don't see that happening any time soon.Posted by: Fed Up at December 21, 2009 2:21 PM
A cloture vote in this case was THE vote. It required 60 ayes. Approval of the bill itself will only require 51.
Some vulnerable Dem legislators (and leadership) have likely preplanned to ultimately take cover by voting aye for cloture and then voting no for the bill. This would be a sham.Posted by: Jill Stanek at December 21, 2009 2:45 PM
I can only hope that the bill will implode in the house as radicals attempt a new grab at a public option and that Stupak's allies hold fast. It's a step closer, but not a done deal.
I've started a blog and invite all over for a virtual cup of coffee/tea.
I've been uncharacteristically unsparing of my Bishops today.
I think that we got here through a fair degree of apathy in the body politic. Liberalism, like all parasitic diseases, has left the body politic in a weakened condition, unable to mount a vigorous defense.
That's about to change when the American people see what that apathy has wrought.Posted by: Gerard Nadal at December 21, 2009 3:03 PM
Serving U.S troops could face prison if they fall pregnant while active
Thank you very much Sen. Snowe. But for your vote for cloture this monstrosity could not have happened.Posted by: Kristen at December 21, 2009 6:29 PM
Jill - about requiring 60 votes for cloture, but only 51 votes for the bill? I missed that part, do you mind if I ask for a source?
If that's true, then GOD save us all. He'll have to, because I thought there was still hope politically.
Wonder what the bribe was? A cabinet post? Getting to be "czar" of something? Chancellor of Wales?Posted by: sabella at December 21, 2009 7:35 PM
Sabella, Jill's right. The vote this morning was for cloture on Harry Reid's amendment. This sets up a Christmas Eve vote on the bill itself.
The Reid amendment was composed in secret and wasn't revealed until Friday. The progressives wanted to get cloture on it to stifle discussion, keep the holiday-focused public clueless about its contents, and force a vote on the bill. This article on cloture explains it better than I can.
If you scroll down to the 5th paragraph of this article, it explains what takes place between now and the Senate's final vote on Christmas Eve.Posted by: Fed Up at December 21, 2009 8:31 PM
Thank you. I understood most of the process, but foolishly missed the part about the bill itself being able to pass with only 51, while 60 were needed for cloture. Oh, ****.
Is there any real hope during reconciliation, or will they bribe Stupak with Levin's seat and give Levin a cabinet post instead? If Stupak could somehow manage to kill the bill, he'd probably get Levin's seat anyway, which is about my only hope.
And that "exemption" for Native Americans is truly disgusting. Are not the Tribes considered to be "sovereign states", yet aborting their children must be funded?Posted by: sabella at December 21, 2009 9:13 PM
There is definitely hope in the House. How much remains to be seen, but people of good will need to pray like crazy and develop constant contact with their representatives and their staffs from the present time until the final vote in the House, whenever that may be.
64 Democrats voted "Yes" on Stupak-Pitts. 41 of these Democrats plus Rep. Cao (R-LA), who voted for Stupak-Pitts as well, also voted for "Yes" on the overall bill. 23 Democrats voted "No" on the bill after voting "Yes" on the pro-life language. The bill passed by three votes.
Every Democrat who supported the Stupak-Pitts language and supported the bill and Rep. Cao need to hear REPEATEDLY from every consituent, especially those constituents who have a personal rapport with either the representative or a member of their staff, reminding them that the Senate language is not consistent with the long-standing Hyde provisions and similar legislation restricting both direct federal expenditures and any and all insurance programs with all or part of the premiums paid by the federal government. Over the weeks these representatives also need to be reminded of all of the additional pro-life objections to this travesty for life as well.
Similarly the 23 Democrats (and the Republicans as well) who supported the abortion funding restrictions and voted "No" on the bill need to be reminded repeatedly that the Senate language does allow federal funding of abortion and is unacceptable to their constituents.
To kill the bill, almost certainly the only way to address the pro-life concerns at this time, will require 27 "No" votes among the 64 Democrats plus Rep. Cao who supported the Stupak-Pitts abortion funding restrictions on November 7th. Rest assured that Nancy Pelosi and her minions are working their tails off already to secure 38 of those 65 votes by any combination of bribes and threats they can develop. The pro-life citizens of this nation need to leave every one of those 65 representatives assuming that they will be retired in 2010, whether that would come in a primary or in the general election next November, if they support the final bill.
Men and women of good will must PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, and ask God to use each of us as instruments to accomplish the work which needs to be done.Posted by: John-in-Oak Lawn at December 22, 2009 2:16 AM
Follow up for off topic link above:
Senators Demand General Rescind Order on Pregnant Soldiers