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Dems Blame GOP for Stalling Health Care Debate

(AP / CBS)
Senate Republicans are boasting about their health care opposition strategy, and frustrated Democrats are responding in kind. If the GOP keeps up its stall tactics, Democrats said today, they are prepared to stay on the Senate floor to debate health care through Christmas.

After three days of debate, the Senate has yet to actually vote on any amendments to the health care bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced. Democrats are placing the blame on Republicans for the delay, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer John Nolen reports. Reid held a special meeting with his party today to discuss how to proceed in the face of a united Republican front.

"At some point, we are going to have to say enough is enough on the stall and start voting," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said.

Democratic members appeared committed to stay and complete health care legislation no matter how long it takes, Nolen reports.

"The general consensus in the room was that we're here, we ought to stay here," said Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who led much of the health care debate in a Senate committee over the summer. "As one member said, if those young men and women -- most of whom are under 25 -- are sitting in some outpost in Afghanistan or Iraq on Christmas eve, we can be here on Christmas eve to deal with health care."

Republicans are not shying away from the fact they are trying to slowly kill Reid's bill.

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg sent a letter to his Republican colleagues on Tuesday laying out the ways the party can slow down the process.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

"We, the minority party, must use the tools we have under Senate rules to insist on a full, complete and fully informed debate on the health care legislation," the letter says.

For their first amendment offered to the bill, Republicans used "an esoteric procedural tactic," according to Roll Call, that would force Reid "to use time-consuming procedures and hold another filibuster-killing vote on whether to restart debate on the bill."

Roll Call also reports that on Tuesday, the Senate Republican Communications Center launched a rapid-response plan to provide real-time rebuttals to Democrats' arguments and amendments.

"Unless Republican leadership comes forward with reasonable approach to these amendments, I think our patience is wearing thin," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said. "They don't want to call these amendments for votes. And we're just not going to sit here forever and watch this."

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET to correct that Sen. Judd Gregg, not Sen. Jim DeMint, sent out a health care memo.

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