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The 10 Most Blogged Bills of 2009

December 29, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Congressional leaders may have decided which bills to bring in front of the C-SPAN cameras over the past year, but they didn't control what the public paid attention to and what bills got them talking. Nearly 10,000 bills have been introduced in Congress over the past year. In many cases the ones that have really caught the public's attention are different from the ones that were sanctioned and promoted by the congressional leadership.

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Congress Links -- Health Care Roundup

December 26, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Like Sen. John Thune [R, SD] pictured at right with his luggage outside at the Capitol, I had to get on a plane and leave for Christmas right after the Senate passed the health care bill on Thursday morning. But some other bloggers kept blogging. Here's a quick roundup of a few good follow up posts on health care from the past few days:

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By a vote of 60 to 39, the Senate early this morning officially approved health care legislation designed to meet President Obama’s goals of reducing health care costs, increasing choices for consumers and guaranteeing access to quality, affordable insurance for all Americans. All 60 Democrats in the Senate, plus the two Independents, voted in favor of the bill. All 39 Republicans who were present voted "no." Sen. Jim Bunning [R, KY] skipped the vote.

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The Senate this morning passed two more procedural hurdles on their health care bill (H.R. 3590) and remain on track to pass the bill before Christmas.

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At 1:25 this morning, the Senate voted to defeat a Republican filibuster of the Democrats' health care bill. The vote brings the Senate beyond the last big hurdle remaining for the bill and virtually guarantees that it will see final approval before the Senate leave town on Christmas Eve for recess.

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The Senate last night voted down an amendment that would have allowed American to buy FDA-approved prescription drugs from overseas, where prices are usually much lower. If it had passed and been added to the Senate health care bill, it has been estimated to save consumers $80 billion on drugs over the next ten years and the government $19 billion over the same period.

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As recently as September 8, 2009, Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] was pushing to allow people to buy into Medicare. This weekend, he said that he would vote to filibuster any health care bill that contains such a provision.

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Democrats in the Senate have negotiated a new deal to break the impasse on health care reform. It involves getting rid of the public option altogether, but, somehow, all the liberal Democrats seem to like it. It appears to have three parts:

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Senate Rejects Nelson Abortion Amendment

December 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

By a vote of 54-45, the Senate today voted to table Sen. Ben Nelson's [D, NE] amendment that would have blocked all women purchasing insurance on the new Exchanges from buying a plan that covers elective abortions, even if they are paying for the plan entirely with their own money.

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Before President Obama can sign a final bill into law, both the Senate and the House need to pass the same exact version of the bill. So how do we get from two bills that are worlds apart on major issues to a single bill that both chambers can agree on?

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The Senate on Monday unanimously approved an elegant, two-page amendment to the health care bill that Sen. Mark Pryor [D, AR], the amendment's sponsor, says will "both simplify a consumer’s search for the right health care company and make health insurance companies more responsive to patient needs."

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Public Option Wrangling

December 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

With four conservative Democrats threatening to filibuster the health care bill if it includes a public option, Senate Democrats are trying to find a way to water down the public option far enough that the four and perhaps even a couple of Republicans will support it, but not so far that too many progressives join a filibuster from the other side.

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The Week Ahead in Congress

December 6, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Today begins the 111th Congress' biggest week yet. Two of President Obama's most significant domestic priorities -- health care reform (H.R. 3590) and overhauling regulations in the financial sector (H.R. 4137) -- will see action on the floors of the House and the Senate.

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The Senate's first order of business on Saturday will be an amendment from Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR], one of the key Democratic swing votes, to limit pay for executives of health insurance companies.

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Senate Votes on Two Women's Health Amendments

December 3, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Both amendments -- one from a Democrats and one from a Republican -- were in direct response to the recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations that women start screening for breast cancer at age 50, not 40, and that women above 50 get screening less frequently.

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