Early Monday morning, Senate Democrats voted 60-40 to end the debate on a package of healthcare reform revisions and advance the bill ahead of the final vote.
The vote has been touted as a show of unity and prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to declare that "today, the Senate took another historic step toward our goal of delivering access to quality, affordable health care to all Americans."
He added that the bill is "about people, it’s about life and death in America and human suffering. And given the chance to relieve this suffering, we must."
Meanwhile the GOP has criticized their opponents for passing the measure in the middle of the night and against the wishes of the majority of public opinion.
"Make no mistake: If the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn’t be forcing this vote in the dead of night," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.), quoted by CNN.
Monday morning’s vote was the first of three this week, and the Senate is expected to conduct the final vote on the healthcare reform bill on Christmas Eve. The final passage of the measure will require only a simple majority vote.