Dec 23, 2009 11:31 AM by Greg Boyce

Final Senate health care vote likely Thursday

As health care reform cleared more votes, passage is no longer seen as an if.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "Health care reform now is a matter of when, and I think the President is enormously encouraged by that."

Republicans are discouraged, aiming their fire at deals Democrats cut to win 60 votes.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "It's whether Senator so and so got a sweet enough deal to sign off on it."

There's what critics call Ben Nelson's Cornhusker Kickback, exempting Nebraska from the cost of Medicaid's growth. Now attorneys general in seven states are looking into if that's legal. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers says he has serious concerns about its legality.

Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson said, "It's not a special deal for Nebraska. It is in fact an opportunity to get rid of an unfunded federal mandate for ALL the states."

Thanks to Max Baucus, Montana gets new health perks, to help ailing miners.

And Mary Landrieu's yes gets her state money too. Mocked as the Louisiana Purchase, she fought back criticism from Republican John McCain.

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu said, "The will of the majority spoke last year when they elected President Obama to be President, and they decided not to elect him."

Mccain didn't take it, replying "If I can remind my friend and my colleague from Louisiana, I did carry her state."

All expect passage Thursday.


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