We just cleared another major hurdle in the almost-completed journey toward passing comprehensive health insurance reform. The U.S. Senate just passed the reconciliation package - 56 to 43 - after rejecting 24 hours worth of occasionally-absurd Republican amendments to the bill.
"The American people have waited for this moment for a century," said Majority Leader Harry Reid after the vote. The only Democrats to vote against the reconciliation package were Sens. Lincoln and Pryor of Arkansas, and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
After months of missed deadlines, it appears that the Senate and House may be on a path toward a reconciliation of their own. Today's vote represents a positive development in the Senate's ability to conduct the people's business. Let's hope this spirit of working together continues.
Today's vote could not have happened without the involvement of SEIU members and health care activists everywhere. In December of 2009, preceding the historic Christmas Eve vote in the Senate, SEIU members and supporters phone-banked voters in Connecticut, Nebraska, Arkansas and Louisiana to talk to folks about their Senator's position on reform. Our "Adopt-a-State" campaign generated thousands of calls, and helped apply pressure to Senators wavering on reform. The reconciliation vote is the final action in a marathon of phone calls, emails, letter writing, in-district visits and townhalls to encourage Senators to support fixing our broken health care system. It feels good to finally cross the finish line in the U.S. Senate.