This had about as much suspense as Avatar:

The Senate approved sweeping healthcare reform legislation by the narrowest of partisan margins early Christmas Eve morning, placing President Barack Obama just one step away from signing into law a longtime Democratic priority.

Actually, it’s probably at least two steps away.  First, the House has to either consider adopting the Senate bill in toto or responding with another version of their own bill that passed a few weeks ago.  Even the White House doesn’t consider the first option realistic, which is why they’re resetting expectations about getting a unified bill out of Congress to February and doing the “hard pivot” to jobs and the economy instead.

The 60 to 39 tally split directly along partisan lines, underscoring not only the great divide between Democrats and Republicans but also the deftness with which Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at long last united his fractious caucus by offering key compromises to centrists but keeping liberals in the fold.

While I understand the need for The Hill and reporter Jeffrey Young to remain objective, and salute that effort, let’s call this what it was.  Harry Reid bribed members of his caucus to support the Democrats’ highest priority domestic agenda item.  Why?  Because it was so radical that not even all of the Democrats could support it until he started using taxpayer money to buy their votes. That’s not “deftness,” it’s crude corruption of the kind that Reid and the Democrats ran against in 2006 and 2008.

This goes back to the House, and then likely back again to the Senate, and perhaps even a stop in a conference committee if Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can’t avoid it.  Meanwhile, the appraisal by voters of this effort will continue to get worse and worse, and this will continue to be an albatross around the neck of Democrats in 2010.

Update: Harry Reid mistakenly voted no initially, and had to change his vote before it closed.  It wouldn’t have mattered; this wasn’t a cloture vote, and all Reid needed was 51 votes.