Senate agrees to cloture on healthcare bill

Path is now clear for a final vote on the legislation Thursday morning

Published December 23, 2009 9:40PM (EST)

The Senate has just agreed to cloture -- that is, to limit debate and end a virtual filibuster -- on its healthcare reform bill.

As expected, Democrats got the 60 votes they needed, but no more. 39 Republicans voted against, with Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., not voting.

For now, the final up-or-down vote on the legislation is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. EST Thursday morning. But Democrats are still on the floor trying to get their Republican counterparts to allow it to be held earlier; after the cloture motion was successful, a frustrated-looking Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, attempted several times to do so, but failed. In part, Harkin and others are attempting to paint Republicans as obstructionists -- at the same time, though, they surely also would like to be able to head home for Christmas sooner rather than later.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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