That does it: the third of the three cloture votes at the end of Senate consideration of the health care bill is over, with cloture again being invoked. There's still the formal, final vote tomorrow morning (unless Republicans relent after all and risk further upsetting talk show yakkers by voting tonight), but that's a majority vote, and won't be in doubt even if Tom Coburn's prayers are answered. This one was the last of the big votes.
It's a tremendous accomplishment: for Harry Reid, for Max Baucus, for Chris Dodd, for Chuck Schumer and Jay Rockefeller, for Barack Obama and his staff, and for Ted Kennedy. A tremendous accomplishment for the policy wonks who devised the approach, and the people who explained it. A tremendous accomplishment for the people who campaigned for Obama, and who campaigned for each of the sixty Senators who voted for it. If just one of those elections had gone the other way, it's hard to be confident that anything even close to today's vote would have been possible (does Olympia Snowe really think that the bill violates the Constitution? Yikes!).
The American system is designed for incremental change. This is about as close to non-incremental change as one can get. There are still a bunch of twists and turns to go (although apparently many of them will be only revealed after the fact), but this really is something very unusual in American politics.
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