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Senate debate on healthcare exacerbates partisanship

New York Times, December 21, 2009

Nasty charges of bribery. Senators cut off midspeech. Accusations of politics put over patriotism. Talk of double-crosses. A nonagenarian forced to the floor after midnight for multiple procedural votes. In the heart of the holiday season, Senate Republicans and Democrats are at one another's throats as the healthcare overhaul reaches its climactic votes. A year that began with hopes of new post-partisanship has indeed produced change: Things have gotten worse. Enmity and acrimony are coursing through a debate with tremendous consequences for both sides as well as for the legislative agenda in the months ahead. The toxic atmosphere is evident on the floor, on television talk shows, and in the hallways of the Capitol. Despite the fact that Democrats appear to have the 60 votes in hand to push through their legislation, Republicans say they intend to force a series of six procedural showdowns that would keep the Senate in session right through Christmas Eve.