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US Senate passes health care reconciliation bill, sends to House for final vote

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] voted 56 to 43 [roll call] to pass a modified version of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 [HR 4872 materials] Thursday, after certain language in the original bill was altered to fix parliamentary problems highlighted by Republicans. The bill will now be sent back to the US House of Representatives [official website] for a final vote on the new language. Democratic leaders stated that the alterations, which involved student-lending legislation attached to health care bill, were minimal and should easily pass through the lower chamber. All Senate Republicans and three Democrats voted against the bill, but it still passed because budget reconciliation bills [Senate backgrounder] require only a simple majority, rather than the standard 60-member super-majority, to advance. The House vote is slated for Thursday evening.

US President Barack Obama signed the original bill into law on Tuesday after it was passed by the House [JURIST reports] by a vote of 219 - 212. He has since signed an executive order [text; JURIST report] continuing a prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortion [JURIST news archive] except in cases of rape or incest or where a woman's life would be endangered, as part of a compromise with conservative Democrats. The same day that the original bill was signed into law, the attorneys general (AGs) for 13 states filed suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the new law [JURIST report]. Last week, Idaho Governor CL Otter signed into law [JURIST report] a bill banning a federal mandate that citizens purchase health insurance. Earlier in March, the Virginia legislature passed a similar bill [JURIST report] that Governor Bob McDonald has indicated he will sign. The AGs who filed suit Tuesday originally threatened the action in December, after the Senate passed its version [JURIST reports] of the health care overhaul bill.

9:30 PM ET - The House voted 220-207 [roll call] to approve the bill.

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