UPDATE:The Senate approves the appropriation 28-7. The “private option” will be headed to the governor’s desk.
***Sen. Hendren and Sen. King raise objections to the lack of amendments in the appropriation bill given the amendments to the enabling legislation.
***Sen. Hester says the amendment “fundamentally changes nothing that made me oppose this bill” and gives anti-government boilerplate. Sen. Hendren follows up with more of the same. The senators look very sleepy. Hendren said opposition didn’t mean that he didn’t care about those in need — “it is about how we express the care we all share for how we take care of those people.” He mentions his granddaughter and the national debt. “That’s the future I’m leaving to Haley Ray,” he says.
***Sen. Hutchinson says “until recently I was not planning to vote for this bill.” He says “unfortunately we will not see any debt reduction if we say no to this.” Quotes Barry Goldwater. He says that this is an opportunity to reform “entitlement programs.” He called the private option “a down payment” on future reform.
***Sen. Clark takes out a little time to slam Mike Ross, the Chamber of Commerce, and hospitals. He complains about free cell phones. Kind of a hodge-podge approach to arguing against the private option. He also says the federal debt will blow “like Mount Vesuvius.”
***Sen. Irvin, the key swing vote, says she has “done everything in my power that I know how to do in order to make a thoughtful choice…What changed for me overnight was listening to everyone in the state, listening to town hall meetings, listening to my colleagues, to my constituents.”
After the jump, previous updates.