Senate leader votes against his own bill on its way to passage

Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 4:28pm

Early this morning, after weeks of raucous debate and exhausting negotiations, the U.S. Senate passed a historic health-care reform bill. The gravity of the rather solemn moment, however, was momentarily broken when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the main architect of the bill's passage, accidentally voted against it.

With the debate on the bill entering its 25th day and the Senate's storied polite decorum eroding, the roll was called for the vote at 7:05 a.m. It was the first time since 1895 the Senate body has conducted a Christmas Eve vote on legislation. Reid, clearly weary from the process, stood when his name was called and said "nay." Realizing what he'd done, he quickly switched his vote to "aye" as his colleagues laughed. After the vote was concluded and the $871 billion bill was passed 60-39, Reid made light of the situation in a post-vote news conference, joking that his "nay" vote wasn't so much an accident as it was an effort on his part to extend the hand of bipartisanship to his Republican friends across the aisle.

"I spent a very restless night last night trying to figure out how I could show some bipartisanship," he said. "I think I was able to accomplish that for a few minutes today."

It should be noted that Reid's accidental vote against the bill wasn't the only atypical moment from this morning's vote. When his turn came, ailing 92-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) deviated from Senate protocol to dedicate his vote to a recently departed friend who'd long fought to reform the nation's health care system.

"This is for my friend Ted Kennedy," he said." Aye!"

The video can be seen at this link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20091224/ts_ynews/ynews_ts1042

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