By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 1/8/2010 11:47:41 AM ET 2010-01-08T16:47:41

Claim: At least one more supermajority Senate vote will be needed to pass insurance reform.

The two insurance overhaul bills passed by the House and Senate last year differ substantially on the subsidies they would provide to insurance purchasers, the way they raise revenue to pay for expanding insurance coverage, and other matters. House and Senate Democratic leaders are meeting to try to square the differences between the two bills and perhaps even to add new features that hadn't been in either the House bill or the Senate one. Once the final bill is ready, what hurdles must it overcome?

Fact or fiction?
Fact. At least one more threshold remains in the Senate if the final bill is to get to President Obama's desk for his signature. Republicans could force Democrats to overcome a filibuster. Democrats would need 60 votes to stop the debate and bring the bill to an up-or-down vote. "All of the procedural devices that are available to slow down a measure were employed," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R- Ky., said about Republican efforts to delay the Christmas Eve vote on the Senate version of the bill. There's no reason to expect him not to do the same on the final bill. The presence of every Democratic senator will be needed to stop a filibuster. Observers have kept a close eye on Sen. Robert Byrd, W- W.V., 92, who is frail and was hospitalized for several weeks last year.

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