There was something thrilling about watching the 60 Democratic Senators pile into the Capitol before daybreak. In the quiet of the morning, it seemed almost to be a Christmas miracle.I say the education reformers take this momentum and run with it.But is Sec. Duncan up to the job?Below, a snippet from yesterday's press conference. If you really want to have some fun, try substituting education for health care.PRESS CONFERENCE WITH SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV); SENATOR MAX BAUCUS (D-MT); SENATOR CHRIS DODD (D-CT); AND SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA)MANSFIELD ROOM, S-207, THE CAPITOL, WASHINGTON, D.C.4:37 P.M. EST, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2009SEN. REID: Okay, we're going to get started now. It's been a long, hard road for all of us. But now we've cleared every 60-vote hurdle along the way. We stand a few short steps from the most significant finish line we've had in Congress for many decades. This debate has been dominated by partisanship and politics. But I don't see this as 60 Democrats versus 40 Republicans. I see it as 60 leaders who stood up to insurance companies and stood up for working families all across America. I see it as 60 leaders who know it's long past time we declare health care a right and not a privilege. I see it as 60 leaders who refuse to let fear overwhelm the facts. I'm honored to be here with members of this great Democratic Caucus. You see, health insurance reform is about people. It's about a half a million Nevadans -- 540,000, to be exact -- who today have no health care but will soon have the coverage they have long since needed. It's about Nevada families fortunate enough to already have insurance but who will soon save as much as $1,600 a year in their premiums. We stand on the doorstep of history. We recognize that. But much more importantly, we stand so close to making so many individual lives better. There are so many people who have worked hard on this legislation. We have members of the HELP Committee, the Finance Committee, we have the chairmen of those committees, we have Senate leadership, chairmen of other committees. This has been a team effort. And it's really unfortunate for me that we're going to have a small number of people speak today, but I think it's important that we understand that Senator Baucus, Senator Dodd, Senator Harkin have been involved in this because of their committee assignments. Just because their committee assignments have taken the forefront does not mean that those people who have not had chairmanships of those committees haven't been heavily involved. I must say this. Standing next to me is Barbara Mikulski. We came to the Senate together. We got on the Appropriations Committee together. And for me, Barbara -- Senator Mikulski -- it brought a tear to my eye when she was the 60th vote today. Congratulations, Barbara. (Applause.) Okay. Baucus -- Baucus, Dodd and Harkin. SEN. BAUCUS: Thank you, Leader. Today is a victory: a victory for American families, a victory for small-business owners, a victory for our economy and for the American economy for generations to come. When we started on this path more than a year ago, we knew it wouldn't be easy, but we have worked tirelessly to deliver more affordable health care; to deliver an insurance market that works for patients, not profit; to deliver billions of dollars in tax credits to help families and small businesses purchase insurance; and to control health-care costs to get American families, businesses and the economy back on track. Today, we can all be proud of what this bill accomplishes. We can be proud that every American in every state will benefit from new consumer protections and a more stable, secure health-care system. Passing health-care reform has challenged each of us. Together, we discussed, we debated, we struggled to find workable solutions to complex problems; but together, we persevered. Why? Because too many Americans were counting on us. I thank my colleagues for the extraordinary dedication and courage to lead, Leader Reid especially, Chairman Dodd, Chairman Harkin, and particularly my colleagues at the Finance Committee and HELP Committee, but, most importantly, all Democrats, all 60 of us, standing together, courageously getting health care passed this year. Leadership is not doing what's easy; leadership is taking on what is difficult and what is right. We all know that the challenges we faced with this legislation pale in comparison to the challenges millions of Americans face because of our broken health-care system. Today, we can say we confronted those challenges, we lifted those burdens, and we did what is right. And I'm very, very proud to say that Americans won. (Applause.) SEN. DODD: Well, let me -- this is quite a moment, obviously. And for all of us standing here, the 60 of us who comprise the Democratic Caucus, all can take great pride in this moment. But I'm confident I speak for all of us, and more importantly, for million of Americans, who have to recognize that every group of individuals has to have a leader. And we've been blessed, indeed, to have a leader in the name of Harry Reid, the majority leader. (Cheers, applause.) Full transcript here.Photo via
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