The Senate passed the Reconciliation Bill this afternoon, but thanks to a parliamentary ruling, it will have to go back to the House of Representatives one more time:
The Senate passed the final piece of President Obama’s landmark health-care package Thursday and sent it back to the House after Republicans identified two minor violations of reconciliation rules that forced changes to a provision on student loans.
House Democratic leaders, who had labored to pass the package Sunday by a narrow margin, said they did not expect the changes to be a significant problem and vowed the approve the bill in question later in the day.
The Senate passed the House’s package of revisions to the health-care legislation –with the two small changes — by a vote of 56 to 43.
Democratic leaders said the provisions that were struck — from the part of the bill dealing with Pell Grants for college students — do not significantly affect the student loan program or the overall health-care bill.
Senators stood and voted from their desks as the roll was called, a traditional reserved for high-profile bills. Before the vote, the Senate observed a moment of silence for the late senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the Democratic champion of health-care reform, who died last year midway through the debate.
Three Democrats voted against the bill: Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both of Arkansas, and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. All three lawmakers supported the legislation that was signed into law on Tuesday but objected to particular provisions in the reconciliation bill.
The bill now heads to the House, where the Rules Committee could begin action within hours. Democratic aides said a final vote on the package could come in early evening, although if Republicans throw up procedural barriers, the vote could be delayed until later Thursday night.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday she was confident that Democrats would have the votes to pass the reconciliation bill again, just as they did on the first tally late Sunday. She said the tweaks mandated by the Senate’s parliamentarianwould not substantially alter the bill’s impact.
“Of all the things they could have sent back, this is probably the most benign [and] easily fixed,” Pelosi told reporters. After the House voted 219 to 212 to pass the main health-care overhaul Sunday night and sent it to Obama for signature, a separate vote was held on the reconciliation bill containing fixes demanded by the House. That bill passed 220 to 211.
And, it will pass.