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Dec 21, 2009 12:43 PM by Associated Press

Obama: Senate vote on health care a `big victory'

President Barack Obama is hailing a Senate vote to propel health care legislation toward final passage, calling it a "big victory for the American people."

By the thinnest possible margin, all 58 Democrats and the Senate's two independents held together early Monday in a crucial test vote against unanimous Republican opposition. The move overcame a procedural effort that could have scuttled a final vote on the massive bill.

Obama said the Senate showed it could stand up to special interests and move the nation closer to a health insurance overhaul for families. He said the bill would reduce the deficit long term, countering criticism that the legislation is too expensive.

The Senate is on pace to pass the bill before Christmas.

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