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Senate OKs health bill fixes; returned to House
Senate Democrats voted to pass the reconciliation package of repairs to President Obama's health care overhaul Thursday afternoon after nearly round-the-clock votes to reject dozens of Republican amendments.
The bill passed 56-43 but has to go back to the House for another vote after Republicans were able to get two lines of the legislation deleted because they violated Senate rules. The House is expected to approve the changes to the bill -- one a technicality, the other a limit on the maximum Pell grant allowed in the federal student loan program -- and send the package to Mr. Obama late Thursday evening. A reform of the nation's student loan system was included in the reconciliation bill for health reform.
The reconciliation bill contains a series of corrections to the underlying health care overhaul plan, which Mr. Obama signed into law this week.
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Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas joined all Republicans in opposition. Mrs. Lincoln, who is in a tough reelection fight, had said she planned to vote against the package because it was passed through reconciliation, the unusual procedure that requires only a simple majority to pass and blocks the minority's ability to filibuster.
Republicans were able to offer an unlimited number of amendments to the package, but they all failed, largely along party lines.
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By Brahma Chellaney
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