Senate Democrats secured Saturday the 60 votes needed to begin debating health care after three wavering lawmakers said they would support the legislation.
Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln joined fellow Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., in voting with their party hours before the 8 p.m. EST roll call.
Many lawmakers are still concerned taxpayer funded abortion will end up in the final version of the health care reform bill. CBN News spoke with Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, who says the Senate version currently does not offer protections for life. Click play to watch her comments, following this report.
Saturday's action is a procedural move to bring the bill to a full Senate vote. After the vote Saturday night, senators will break for Thanksgiving recess. After the break, they will launch into weeks of debate on the health care bill, with numerous amendments expected from both sides of the aisle and more 60-vote hurdles along the way.
Earlier Saturday, Landrieu, announced on the Senate floor she would be voting "yes" with hers becoming the 59th vote in a key healthcare test.
She said the bill was "the best work of the Senate to date and subject of significant importance to the people of my state and the country."
On Friday, Nelson revealed he would vote in favor of moving the Democrats' bill forward.
"We are preparing a bill which will be challenged by the health insurance companies who hate this. As one old senator used to say 'the Devil hates holy water,'" Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin said. "We're bound to take this to court and we want to make sure this bill is well-written and comprehensive and can stand the test and I believe it will."
The Democratic votes come in the face of unanimous Republican opposition.
GOP lawmakers say the mammoth 2,000-page bill will burden the national debt.
"This bill adds to that and isn't accounted for," warned Sen. Charles Grassley. "It spends too much, it taxes too much and obviously, it adds to that debt."
The price tag on the current bill is $849 billion and would cover 94 percent of the country.
Reid has been trying to find a compromise on abortion funding in the Senate bill. However, Republicans have stepped up their criticism of the measure, attacking the bill as new tax increases and Medicare cuts, which mean more financial burdens for states.
Meanwhile on Thursday, an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Sen. Harry Reid's bill is the worst he's seen so far on life issues.
Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops' conference Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said Reid's bill is "completely unacceptable," adding that "to say this reflects current law is ridiculous."
At the White House, health reform director Nancy Ann DeParle praised Reid's effort to find a compromise on abortion.
"It was carefully worked through by the leader, who cares a lot about making sure this maintains the status quo on abortion policy," DeParle told reporters.