The Senate Wednesday evening begun the so-called "vote-a-rama" on the package of fixes to the new healthcare law, setting in motion the final step before a vote on the measure.

Senate leaders are considering the fix-it bill under the budget reconciliation rules, which allows Democrats to sidestep a Republican filibuster of the legislation by taking a simple majority vote.


The bill was passed by the House Sunday after it approved the main healthcare overhaul minutes before. The measure is backed by the president and removes portions of the main bill some House Democrats found unsavory, such as the so-called "special deals" included by the Senate. 

Under the rules, senators can debate bills for only 20 hours but are also allowed to offer an unlimited amount of amendments.

So instead of filibustering the bill, which Republicans say will make the existing law even worse, they have offered a string of 23 motions and amendments which will be voted on in quick succession. The office of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) estimates that senators will get through the amendments in about eight hours.

Republicans are offering amendments in part to slow the process down, thus Democrats have been urged to vote against them

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said Wednesday that if the amendments pass, it would give Republicans "an opportunity to make more mischief and kill the bill."