The Senate has voted on the last of the many amendments to the reconciliation bill, none of which have passed. Kent Conrad spoke about the two technical changes to the bill cited by the Senate parliamentarian, and the presiding officer (in a surprise appearance, Vice President Joe Biden) confirmed that there would be no further points of order risen.
So, the reconciliation bill will get a final vote in moments, and it is highly likely to pass with 57 votes, including all Senate Democrats except for Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln. Democrats offered no perfecting amendments to the majority vote legislation, despite having a free shot to do so without the prospect of a filibuster.
After the vote, the House expects to pass the reconciliation bill, with changes, this evening. The President will sign the bill, and changes to the health care law will be made, along with sweeping legislation altering the student loan program and ending bank and lender subsidies.
Max Baucus is now praising the work of Liz Fowler, who wrote lots of the bill. Fowler is a former WellPoint VP.
…Harry Reid is calling for a minute of silence in honor of the late Ted Kennedy, in advance of the vote.
…Joe Biden just sustained the two points of order about the two Byrd rule violations in the reconciliation bill. He was never going to overrule the advice of the parliamentarian, but it’s worth noting.
…Biden is calling for the Yeas and Nays. The Senators will answer from their desks. Evan Bayh just voted Aye. This will end up 57-43, in all likelihood.
…Lieberman officially votes Aye on the changes, and Lincoln officially votes No, against removing bank subsidies and transferring the money to students.
…Democrats have over 50 votes, so this will pass, they’re just wrapping up the final voters. In a surprise, Mark Pryor votes No (covering for Lincoln?).
…The tally right now is 56-40, only four Republicans are left, and they may not bother with the vote. (Mark Pryor, Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln were the only No votes)
…OK, the final tally will be 56-43, the reconciliation bill has passed, and it will pass the House with the technical changes this evening. You can put a lid on this stage of health care reform, because it’s done.