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U.S. senators from Missouri, Illinois stick with their parties on health care vote

This article fist appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 22, 2009 - As expected, in Saturday night's first test vote on the Democratic health care bill, Missouri's two U.S. senators -- Republican Christopher "Kit" Bond and Democrat Claire McCaskill -- split on partisan grounds.

She was among 60 senators -- all Democrats and independents -- who voted in favor of bringing the bill to the floor, for debate that is slated to begin after Thanksgiving. That group included Illinois two Democratic senators, Richard Durbin and Roland Burris.

Bond was among 39 senators, all Republicans, who voted against the move, seeking instead to kill the bill.

Immediately, the two parties swung into action to blast the Missouri senators' votes.

The Democratic National Committee issued two "rapid response'' e-mail missives attacking Bond's statements during Saturday's debate. Among other things, he had contended that "this is one turkey no one could be thankful for.  After being written behind closed doors for six weeks, all the Majority has to offer the American people is 2,000 pages that will cost over $2 trillion; increase health care costs, raise taxes, and cut Medicare benefits for seniors...”

The DNC said Bond's assertions were inaccurate, and cited the support for the bill from various groups, including AARP and the AMA.

(Bond said in a Saturday tele-conference with reporters that he felt “sort of like a mosquito in a nudist colony. There’s so many targets in this bill, we don’t know which ones to hit.”)

Meanwhile, the state Republican Party blasted McCaskill, saying, "She chose the massive tax increases, Medicare cuts, and onerous regulations of an out-of-control government over real common-sense reform. What little was left of McCaskill’s reputation as a fiscal watchdog has been forever destroyed.”

McCaskill has yet to issue a statement, although she has said earlier this week that she saw floor debate as the best way to shape the best bill. On Friday, she touched off political buzz when she countered GOP complaints about the 2,000-page bill by Tweeting, "If we printed the health care bill in regular size font it would be same length as Sarah Palin's book, but with more meat on the bone."