The Senate is at work unusually early and voting on healthcare as Democrats zero in on their goal of passing President Barack Obama's signature issue by Christmas.
Three votes were scheduled early Tuesday morning, starting with a procedural motion. The Senate then planned to vote on a nearly 400 page amendment to the healthcare bill, reflecting the deals Democrats made to shore up support within their ranks for the legislation.
The third vote, requiring 60 senators to pass, would shut off debate on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's version of the bill. That still leaves one more 60-vote hurdle before final passage, expected to come on Christmas Eve.
With partisan feelings running high, Reid appealed to senators to forgo personal attacks so they can go home for the holidays "in a peaceful nature."
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Republican senator who has opposed President Barack Obama's health overhaul effort says the deals Democratic leaders have cut to round up the votes they need to push the measure through the Senate have been "sleazy."
Speaking Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina cited concessions won by Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, whose support gave Democrats the 60th and final vote they need. Among other things, Nelson won an agreement that the federal government will pay to expand Medicaid services in Nebraska.
Said Graham: "That's not change you can believe in. That's sleazy."
The Senate had procedural votes Tuesday morning on the overhaul bill and Democrats are pushing for final passage before Christmas.