Washington (CNN) — U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska on Saturday threw his support behind the Democrats’ health care reform bill, giving the party the crucial backing it needed to avoid a Republican filibuster that would prevent a Senate vote.
The first of a series of votes is set for Monday at 1 a.m., on a so-called manager’s amendment, consisting of amendments crafted in the last week-and-a-half by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
At the request of Republicans, the entire package of amendments — 383 pages — was being read Saturday, for hours, on the Senate floor.
The Senate could vote on the entire bill, a top priority of President Obama, before Christmas.
However, a House Democratic leadership source told CNN that Obama’s repeated requests for a health care bill to arrive on his desk by the end of the year won’t be met. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing internal discussions within the party, said there is “no chance of a conference between Christmas and New Year’s.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said the latest version of the Senate health care bill “is a legislative train wreck of historic proportions.”
“If [Democrats] were proud of this bill, they wouldn’t be doing it this way,” McConnell said. “They wouldn’t be jamming it through in the middle of the night on the last weekend before Christmas.”
McConnell said the legislation “will have a profound impact on our nation. This is not renaming a post office. Make no mistake, this bill will reshape our nation and our lives.”
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