The first hurdle for reforming health care was cleared in the senate today, with lawmakers gathering for procedural voting in the nation’s Capitol at one in the morning. Under Senate rules, three successive votes to end debate on the bill will be held 30 hours apart, and this morning’s was the first. As expected the voting reflected sharp partisan divides — 58 Democrats and 2 Independents, including Senator Bernie Sanders, voted "yes" on the health care bill, while all 40 Republicans in the senate voted "no."
Republicans were angered especially by amendments added to the bill by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that were seemingly designed to make sure a few wavering Democrats, like Nebraska Senator Bob Nelson, would support the overall bill.
And while Nebraska was a big winner in the amendment language, so was Vermont, with some $250 Million to increase Vermont’s Medicaid payments over six years. The health care bill requires all states to expand their Medicaid programs, something Vermont has already done.
Vermont’s senior Senator Patrick Leahy pushed for the increased Medicaid funds. He joined VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb this morning to talk about the vote and why he felt the increased Medicaid funding was critical for Vermont.
Click listen to hear the interview.