The US Senate is set to vote today on its $871 billion health reform bill, after a third and final procedural vote yesterday approved a full vote at 7am Washington time this morning.

The result of yesterday’s 60-39 vote to end debate on the controversial measure was welcomed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said: “we stand on the doorstep of history.”

The bill is expected to pass, with Senators continuing to vote along party lines and two independents supporting the Democrats, but the final vote will require only a bare majority in the 100-member Senate, rather than the 60 votes needed each time to win the procedural votes.

Meantime, it is reported that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) - which is broadly supportive of the Senate bill but not of the House version which passed on November 7 – spent $6.8 billion in the third quarter of this year on lobbying activities relating to a wide range of issues including the health reform proposals, compared with around $5.4 billion in the same period of 2008.

The industry group's lobbying activities, which were directed not only at members of Congress but also the White House and a number of federal government agencies, are revealed in a disclosure report filed on October 20 with Congressional services and now made public.