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What's next with healthcare? A handy legislative guide explains the steps

November 27, 2009 |  3:15 pm

Capitol Dome

The arguments for and against the healthcare legislation pending in the House and Senate are well known. But what about the process that is sure to captivate Washington for many weeks to come?

It may sound wonky, but understanding the process is key to following the events about to unfold in the Capitol. We were reminded of this basic fact recently when Noam Levey, one of our colleagues in Washington, produced a handy guide to what was headlined “The long road ahead.” Long, indeed.

Now that the Senate has voted (60 to 39) to begin debate on its version of healthcare legislation, here are the likely next steps in the Senate. Levey's guide is more readable and useful than your old text from Civics 101. You might want to bookmark this one:Pharmacy

AMENDMENTS

Once debate begins on Senate bill, lawmakers from both parties will be allowed to offer amendments

When expected: Starting Nov. 30 through Christmas or beyond

Votes required: Subject to negotiation, with 60 likely for more contentious amendments

CLOTURE TO END DEBATE ON THE BILL

Required to end a Republican filibuster and move to a vote on the bill

When expected: Just before Christmas, though possibly later

Votes required: 60

ADOPTION OF THE BILL

Would send the Senate bill to a conference committee, where it would be reconciled with the House healthcare bill that passed Nov. 7.

When expected: Just before Christmas, though possibly later

Votes required: 51

CLOTURE TO END DEBATE ON CONFERENCE REPORT

Would end GOP filibuster of the conference report that combines the House and Senate healthcare bills

When expected: Sometime in January

Votes required: 60

FINAL PASSAGE

Assuming House approval, would send the legislation to President Obama for his signature

When expected: Sometime in January

Votes required: 51

-- Steve Padilla

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Top photo credit: AFP/Getty Images. Bottom photo credit: Reuters.

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