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Dems yield time to trim debate

From NBC's Ken Strickland
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just yielded back all of the Democratic time in the debate, at least seven hours worth. That means there are about eight hours left in the debate before the vote-o-rama starts.

It also means all the remaining speeches will likely be on Republican side.

So, the vote-o-rama could start tonight and carry over into tomorrow. It's also possible the Republicans could give back their time later too.

The Senate burned through seven of the 20 hours of debate for the reconciliation bill of health-care fixes yesterday. There were no votes, and Republicans have made no parliamentary challenges so far on the floor.

Debate began at 9 a.m. and may stretch late into the evening. Votes are expected this afternoon on amendments offered by Republicans. They offered more than 20 yesterday. At this point, Democrats are not planning to offer any since their goal is not to change the bill.

The Republican amendments run the gamut of substantive, political, and snarky.

Sen. John McCain offered one to eliminate the "sweetheart" deals for individual states that remain in the bill. Sen. Mike Enzi's (R-WY) strip out the employer mandate. A Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) amendment ensures that no person making less than $200,000 is taxed under the new health-care law.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who has offered the most amendments, has one prohibiting coverage of Viagra for child molesters and another that would require all members of Congress to read the reconciliation bill before voting. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has one that prohibits funding ACORN. And Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) offers one related to gay marriage in Washington, D.C.

But wait there's more. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has one that would require the president, his cabinet, and White House senior staff to purchase insurance through the new exchanges. Coburn has another that allows Americans who like the insurance coverage they have now to keep it and another that says for every new bureaucratic job created as part of the health-care law, another one is eliminated.

The Senate Republican Conference will post the summary and text of amendments as they're called to the floor for consideration.