Jubilation and Doubt as Senate Passes Health Care

Was the 7 a.m. vote the beginning of victory or of defeat?

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The Senate formally passed health care reform legislation this morning at 7 a.m. Now the bill must be merged with the House version, which lacks a public option but has stricter anti-abortion restrictions, and it will be available for President Obama to sign into law. The last major health care reform initiative to be passed was the Social Security Act of 1965. The passage of this bill, after a long and difficult year of partisan fighting and Congressional vote-wrangling, was met with celebration among its supporters as well as suspicion and doubt among its detractors. Here are the immediate reactions.

  • The Washington Post's Ezra Klein: "Health-care reform got 60 percent in the Senate. Given that Obama's 53 percent election was considered decisive, that's not too bad."
  • The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn: "The Senate has passed health reform. Savor that sentence. It's taken almost 100 years."
  • FireDogLake's Jon Walker: "A Big Win For PhRMA, Health Insurance Companies, Obama, Reid, Nelson, Lincoln, Lieberman; A Big Loss For The American People And the Progressive Movement"
  • CBS News's Mark Knoller: "[Senate Majority Leader] Sen. Reid was so anxious to cast his 'aye' vote, that he answered when Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI was called."
  • Hot Air's Ed Morrissey: "As suspenseful and surprising as Avatar, just not as entertaining."
  • Washington Independent's David Weigel: "BREAKING: Senate votes for Jeffrey Young, Brian Beutler, and Ezra Klein to take a fucking vacation already."
  • National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez: "I've never been happier for the existence of the house ...."

The votes also marked something else: the culmination of more than a generation of partisan polarization of the American political system, and a precipitous decline in collegiality and collaboration in governing that seemed to move in inverse proportion to a rising influence of lobbying, money, the 24-hour news cycle and hostilities on talk shows and in the blogosphere.[...]

Many senators said the current vitriol, which continued on the floor on Wednesday with a fight over when to cast the final health care vote, was unlike anything they had seen. "It has gotten so much more partisan," said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia. "This was so wicked. This was so venal." [...]

Mr. Rockefeller said the health bill had created an almost perfect storm of political and policy disagreements, so that some of the bitterness reflected basic philosophical disputes crystallized by President Obama's agenda. "If there was ever a time for that kind of partisanship to come out, this was the bill to do it," he said.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.