RNC, DNC, White House, lawmakers react to health care vote

The Republican and Democratic Parties, the White House, and several lawmakers reacted immediately after the passage of the first procedural vote on the Senate's healthcare reform bill Saturday night.

The measure passed 60-39, meaning that the Senate can now begin formal debate on the bill. All Republican senators voted against the measure aside from Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio), who was absent. All members of the Democratic caucus voted for it.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said:

The President is gratified that the Senate has acted to begin consideration of health insurance reform legislation. Tonight’s  historic vote brings us one step closer to ending insurance company abuses, reining in spiraling health care costs, providing stability and security to those with health insurance, and extending quality health coverage to those who lack it. The President looks forward to a thorough and productive debate.

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele targeted the two holdout senators, Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.):

Tonight a number of moderate Democrats sacrificed their principles to give Harry Reid a victory that brings America dangerously closer to having a government-run health care system.  Make no mistake: this was not a free vote.  A vote in favor of this procedural motion paves the way for the bill’s final adoption, which would impose a government-run health care experiment on America that increases premiums, increases taxes, cuts Medicare and allows for taxpayer-funded abortions.  As the recent elections in Virginia and New Jersey showed, Harry Reid’s health care scheme is exactly what voters do not want.  President Obama, Harry Reid and their liberal Senate allies will surely gloat and pat themselves on the back for winning tonight’s vote in the dark of night during a rare Saturday session, while Americans were home with their families.  But as they do, those moderate Democrats who voted for Harry Reid’s bill will have to answer to their constituents.

Democratic National Committe chairman Tim Kaine said:

Today, the Senate took another historic step on the road to enacting health insurance reform. By clearing this first procedural hurdle, senators will now have an opportunity to debate the health reform bill on the Senate floor and continue to make progress on delivering health insurance reform to the American people.  I want to extend my congratulations to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Dick Durbin for their tenacity in bringing the bill to the floor, and thank countless other senators for their commitment to reform as the Senate begins this historic debate.

While unfortunate, it’s not terribly surprising that no Republicans voted in favor of the motion to proceed. Defenders of the status quo have been working to derail reform for months -- unfortunately, their obstructionist, just-say-no tactics represent more of the same. No matter. We know that there are some members of the Republican Party who understand the urgent need for health insurance reform and we remain hopeful that we can continue to work with those members to find common ground on this historic effort to pass health insurance reform that provides greater security and stability to Americans who have insurance and more quality affordable options to those who don’t.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would bring down the skyrocketing costs of care for American families, businesses and our government, and reduce the national deficit $130 billion by 2019.

We've been trying to reform our broken system since Harry Truman was president -- now, we're in the home stretch. This time, President Obama and Congressional Democrats will deliver health insurance reform to the American people.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Twitter:

Tonight was another historic step forward towards health insurance reform. Debate begins Nov 30th.


Senare Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said:

The health care debate is now officially underway on this 2,074 page, multi-trillion-dollar health care experiment.

This bill may have been drafted behind closed doors but now it’s the American people’s turn to have their voices heard. For months, they have been asking Congress to do something about the high cost of healthcare and yet the sponsors of this bill responded with a half-trillion dollars in Medicare cuts, massive tax hikes, and an unsustainable expansion of new government programs which Congress’s non-partisan scorekeeper says will result in higher premiums, not lower. It may be a lot of things, but it’s sure not reform.

Republicans will now provide what the closed-door sessions did not. We will continue to offer the commonsense, step-by-step cost-saving reform that Americans really want.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said on Twitter

But tonight it became clear that those who simply want to obstruct any progress and defend the broken status quo simply will not win.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said on Twitter

Some senators who voted for this healthcare takeover may have made a career-ending decision tonight

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said on Twitter

Cast an historic vote to begin debate of Sen health care bill which covers 94% of Americans and reduces the deficit by at least $127 billion

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said on Twitter:

They got 60 exactly,not one more,including Snowe.This isn't the end of fight.It's just the beginning.My statement http://tinyurl.com/yeqes2n

Vitter's statement reads:

As I traveled every corner of Louisiana during the August recess meeting with Louisianians in over 21 health care town hall meetings, I learned a great deal. I learned that Louisianians are starting to connect the dots as to what’s going on up here in Washington as we’ve moved closer to nationalizing our banks, insurance companies and the automobile industry. Now, they are watching their government continue to expand its size and grow its power as we move very close to allowing for a government takeover of our health care system – an industry that makes up one-sixth of the American economy.

This bill is designed to push those with private insurance onto the government plan by making it costly and uncomfortable for both the small businesses and their employees to continue to keep private insurance. The result is going to lead to an explosion in debt and spending that will undoubtedly fall on our children and grandchildren. One of the ways in which the administration intends to pay for this massive government program is to cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars even as they increase new taxes and fees by that same amount.

I’ve always said that 2,000 plus paged bills passed in a blur are often riddled with mischief and consequences that don’t come to light until well after the bill is signed into law, and this bill is a prime example of that.

We all want to see real, concrete health care reform enacted, but rushing through passage of a 2,000-plus paged bill that will add trillions of dollars to our already ballooning debt is absolutely not the direction we should be heading.

What I’ve learned from my town hall meetings across Louisiana is that several modest-sized bills targeted toward specific reforms like tort reform, purchasing insurance across state lines, addressing preexisting conditions and lowering the cost of prescription drugs through reimportation would make for a more acceptable approach.

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) said on Twitter:

Senate voted to move the health care bill forward 60 - 39. The legislative process continues. Thinking of Sen. Kennedy & his family.