"People have to show up and vote at least three more times," McConnell said, arguing that time is good for the process as lawmakers and the public read through the bill.
Some liberal Democrats are also unhappy, even though they voted with their caucus. Anti-war Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who earlier helped break a Republican filibuster of a troop funding bill he opposed in order to make room on the Senate schedule for health care reform, cast blame at the White House for not pushing hard enough to include a public health insurance option.
"Unfortunately, the lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option in the bill an uphill struggle," Feingold said in a written statement.
Feingold supported the bill, however, as did every other Democrat, even though he disliked elements of it.
"While the loss of the public option is a bitter pill to swallow, on balance, the bill still delivers meaningful reform, and the cost of inaction is simply too high," Feingold said.
If Senate Democrats pass their bill later this week as they seem sure to do, the next step will be a post-holiday conference to reconcile the House and Senate versions. Given the real differences between the two, that may not be easy.
The House version includes a public health insurance option, while the Senate version would follow the model of insurance for federal workers, allowing insurers to create national health plans overseen by a federal agency.
There are also differences in how the legislation is paid for: The House taxes wealthy Americans, while the Senate would, among other revenue measures, tax high-cost insurance plans. Unions oppose that measure.
But those fights, assuming Democrats can maintain perfect attendance this week, will wait for after the holiday.