ABC's Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Sen. Ted Kennedy, recovering from brain surgery and in the midst of chemotherapy treatments, returned to the Capitol on Wednesday to help Democrats break a Republican filibuster of a bill to keep a pay cut for Medicare doctors from going into effect. The Senate chamber erupted in cheers and standing ovation as he entered the chamber for the first time since May. Republicans walked across the aisle to shake his hand even as he voted against their interests.
WATCH VIDEO OF THE KENNEDY'S RETURN TO THE SENATE HEREIt's a fitting bill for Kennedy's return. He is chairman of the Senate Committee that handles health policy and the bill deals with payments to doctors who treat Medicare payments. Democrats fell one vote short of passing a Medicare bill last month. While the bill got bipartisan support in the House and passed overwhelmingly there, Republicans in the Senate wanted to put their mark on the bill and blocked it.Senate Democrats had been trolling all week for another Republican to support the bill -- 9 Republicans voting against the filibuster had brought them within one.Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Democrat in charge of counting votes in the Senate, gave a speech earlier on Wednesday in front of a large poster which read "1 vote.""We need one more Republican vote," Durbin pleaded. "One more."Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid admonished his colleagues just before the cloture vote, "As I look across the aisle to my friends, the 60th vote is there," he said.But Republicans feel the Medicare bill will hurt private insurers who target those who qualify for Medicare. Democrats pay for stopping the 10.6 percent pay cut for Medicare doctors by cutting payments for Medicare Advantage, modeled as a market-based alternative to Medicare.Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans should not be blamed for cutting the doctors fees because Democrats won't agree to a short-term fix while they debate a compromise in the Senate."Democrats don't want a compromise. They don't want a long term extension of current law. They don't want a short term extension of current law. Yet they're not to blame for this pay cut for Medicare?" McConnell asked rhetorically.