President Obama’s healthcare reform bill has cleared a major obstacle in the US Senate putting it on track for a final vote on Christmas Eve.
Democrats unanimously backed the first in a series of three procedural motions, which will end debate on Obama’s top domestic priority.
The legislation, designed to provide insurance for millions of vulnerable Americans, will bring about the biggest changes in the country’s healthcare system since 1965.
Despite unified Republican opposition they acknowledged that their attempts to block the bill have failed.
The loss of a single Democrat vote could have scuppered the plan.
The Democrats have 60 members in the Senate, the exact number required to get the bill through.