Critical Condition

When Harry Met Saturday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. Senate geared up for a fierce battle over a new healthcare reform plan on Thursday as Republicans condemned the bill’s price tag and tax hikes before the first crucial test vote on Saturday.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid’s 2,074-page blueprint for overhauling the $2.5 trillion healthcare system sparked what promises to be a long and bitter debate over President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

The Senate will vote on Saturday night on whether to move to debate on the legislation — the first key procedural hurdle for the Senate plan and one that requires 60 votes from the 100-member body.

“The finish line is in sight,” Reid said. “I’m confident we’ll cross it soon.”