Wed, December 23, 2009
World > Americas

U.S. Senate to vote on landmark healthcare bill on Christmas eve

2009-12-22 23:03:02 GMT2009-12-23 07:03:02 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate will cast its final vote on the landmark healthcare legislation in the morning of the Christmas eve, which is Dec. 24, officials said on Tuesday.

The senators, hoping to get home by the night of Christmas eve, agreed late in the day to change the schedule to allow the vote to take place by 8 a.m. eastern time (1300 GMT) Thursday, congressional officials told reporters.

A procedural vote is slated for Wednesday afternoon, and the Senate will hold the final vote the next morning.

The 2,074-page healthcare reform bill would expand health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans and was estimated to reduce the federal deficit by 132 billion U.S. dollars in the first decade after it is enacted.

However, even if the bill passes the Senate as expected, which looks very likely, it will not mean a done deal.

First, it must be reconciled with the version which the House of the Representatives passed last month. Both chambers then would have to approve a final version before it goes to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

Obama had wanted to sign the historic legislation by year-end, but his senior advisers acknowledged that wouldn't happen.

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