A SLIGHT ADJUSTMENT TO THE SCHEDULE…. It’s not exactly a Christmas miracle, but senators and their staffs will get a little bit of a break when the Senate holds its up-or-down vote on health care reform.

Senate Republicans have agreed to end their filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) health care reform bill a few hours early, allowing for a vote at 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve.

Under the agreement between Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), votes on final passage of the health care bill and a two-month extension to the debt limit sometime before early afternoon on Christmas Eve.

Republicans also have secured the right to offer between two and four votes to the long-term debt limit extension, which is expected to come to the floor sometime in February.

Yesterday, the Senate Republican caucus met to discuss strategy, and members demanded that they fight until the last possible moment, even if it meant delaying the vote until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Today, the same caucus met, and decided delaying the inevitable may not be worthwhile after all.

A short while ago, Reid asked “unanimous consent that all post cloture time be expired at 8 am Thursday.” It was approved without objection.

This is a nice step for the chamber, but it’s worth re-emphasizing a key detail: if Republicans were willing to scrap the pointless obstructionism, the Senate could vote on the reform bill today and everyone could enjoy a nice little holiday-season break. No such luck.

I can, however, take some comfort in knowing I won’t have to bring a laptop to Christmas Eve dinner Thursday night.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.