Senate passes healthcare bill

In an early-morning vote, the legislation passes along party lines

Published December 24, 2009 12:16PM (EST)

As expected, in a rare session the day before Christmas, the Senate voted to pass Democrats' healthcare reform legislation. With cloture having been agreed to on Wednesday, only a 51-vote majority was necessary, but the Democrats held all 60 members of their caucus. All 39 Republicans present voted no; Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., did not vote.

Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lambasted his Republican colleagues, saying this was the first time in U.S. history that an entire political party "stood on the sidelines rather that participate in great and greatly needed social change."

During the roll call, there was one bittersweet moment; when casting his vote, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said, "Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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