The Senate early Monday voted 60 to 40 to cut off extended debate on the Democratic-authored health care overhaul bill, the first major step toward passing the measure later this week.
The vote, which saw all 58 Democrats and two independents vote to end the latest debate while all 40 Republicans opposed the maneuver, ended at 1:19 a.m. and capped a day of debate that turned partisan and often angry.
Meanwhile, the next major battle may be between the House and the Senate.
Do not mess with this bill.
That was the message Senate Democrats sent to their colleagues on the House side over the weekend, warning them not to make any significant changes to the health care package heading toward a vote in their chamber if they want the bill to survive past Christmas.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday won the support of the last known Democratic holdout, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., giving him the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill out of the Senate. But assuming the bill clears the Senate, negotiators from both sides will still have to work out vast differences between the House and Senate versions in what's known as a conference committee.
The legislative sausage making continues.