House passes reconciliation fixes for healthcare legislation

The House put the finishing touches on healthcare reform Thursday night by passing a “fixes” bill that finally will allow President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump spokeswoman: Health care will be 'big' selling point for union workers Democrats will not beat Trump without moderate policy ideas Trump job approval rises amid record partisan gap: Gallup MORE and his allies on Capitol Hill to declare final victory on what had been one of the Democratic Party’s biggest pieces of unfinished business.

The bill encompasses the White House-brokered compromises between the Senate-authored healthcare reform law Obama enacted Tuesday and the version the House passed in November.

The House passed the bill on a 220-207 vote, with 32 Democrats voting with every Republican against the measure. 

Little over six hours after the Senate tweaked and approved the reconciliation package, lawmakers in the lower chamber sped through a Rules committee meeting and several votes to send the "fixes" to the healthcare bill to the floor.

The scene unfolding in the House chamber was starkly different than on Sunday. Instead of protesters and packed galleries, lawmakers spoke to a sparsely attended chamber.

A handful of members discussed the merits of the amended reconciliation bill, which includes a student loan program to help offset the cost of the president's billion-dollar healthcare plan, while others attacked the healthcare law and the philosophical differences of the parties.

Most, though, wanted to go home and did -- quickly.

Though the healthcare reform bill is already law, Congress had some work left to do after Obama’s signing ceremony Tuesday.

The Senate had to advance a second House-passed bill under budget reconciliation rules that would allow it to pass on a simple majority vote. The House approved the reconciliation “fixes” bill along with the healthcare reform bill on Sunday.

After a frenzied three days of debate, late-night sessions and a “vote-a-rama” on dozens of Republican amendments, the Senate approved the reconciliation bill on a 56-43 tally Thursday afternoon. Three Democrats voted against the bill -- Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.).

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (N.Y.), the vice chairman of the Democratic Conference, said leaders expected more Democrats to oppose the measure. “Fifty-six is more votes than we thought we had,” he said.

But Senate Republicans succeeded in using reconciliation rules to strip a handful of items, related to the student-lending bill attached to the healthcare measure, from the legislation, forcing another House vote.

Several Democrats also voted in supported of some GOP amendments to the reconciliation bill but none were approved. Senate Democrats, who promised their House counterparts not to alter the legislation, offered no amendments during the three days of floor consideration.