Democrats held a protest on the floor of the Senate during a roll-call vote on legislation covering the outlines of next year's budget.
The Republican-sponsored budget blueprint establishes elements of the Affordable Care Act as budgetary matters, which means the Senate can resolve them with a simple majority vote. This effectively prohibits Democratic senators from staging filibusters to block Republican attempts to gut the bill.
Democrats expressed dismay and anger during the 51-48 roll-call vote. Republicans, said Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, were "stealing health care from Americans." Oregon's Ron Wyden said he voted against the resolution "because health care should not just be for the healthy and wealthy."
Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who presided over the session, attempted to prevent Democrats from speaking. He ruled their statements out of order, reminding them that "debate is not allowed during a vote."
The budget vote followed a long "vote-a-rama" session in which the Senate took consecutive votes on many admentdments. The roll call ended just before 1:30 a.m.
The budget blueprint legislation allows Senate Republicans to streamline the process of repealing Obamacare. It sets the stage for portions of Obamacare to be repealed through the reconciliation process, which is normally reserved for smoothing out small differences between House and Senate versions of legislation.
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