The U.S. Senate is moving closer to passing landmark health care reform legislation later this week.
Early Tuesday, majority Democrats and their independent allies got the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the bill, and help move the legislation forward. They also approved a package of changes.
The measure is advancing toward a final vote late Thursday, Christmas Eve. There will be another procedural vote on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama has made passing health care reform a top domestic priority. He told reporters Tuesday he will not leave Washington for the holiday until the Senate finishes its work on health care.
Debate on the measure continues in the Senate, with minority Republicans arguing that the legislation is too expensive.
The proposed legislation would extend coverage to 31 million Americans now without health insurance, and ban insurance companies from denying benefits because of pre-existing medical conditions.
The House of Representatives passed its version of a health care reform bill last month. Negotiations for a compromise final version are expected to begin after the December 25 Christmas holiday, with President Obama hoping to sign a bill into law sometime early next year.