Senate Democrats moved closer yesterday to passing landmark health care legislation by Christmas after scoring a win in the first big test vote and gaining the support of a powerful lobbying group for doctors.

In a middle-of-the-night vote in a snowy Washington, Democrats rounded up 60 votes to clear a crucial Republican procedural hurdle and put a broad revamp of the health care system on a path for passage on Christmas Eve.

“The Senate has moved us closer to reform that makes a tremendous difference for families, for seniors, for businesses, and for the country as a whole,” said President Barack Obama.


The vote early yesterday was the first test of whether Democrats could stick together to secure the 60 votes needed to overcome unified Republican opposition and muscle changes to the health care system through the Senate.

The health care overhaul, Obama’s top legislative priority, faces two more procedural tests with a 60-vote threshold — this morning and tomorrow afternoon — before a vote on final passage now scheduled for Christmas Eve.

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