From New York Times:
Congress gave final approval on Sunday to legislation that would provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and remake the nation’s health care system along the lines proposed by President Obama.
By a vote of 219 to 212, the House passed the bill after a day of tumultuous debate that echoed the epic struggle of the last year. The action sent the bill to President Obama, whose crusade for such legislation has been a hallmark of his presidency.
“This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform,” Mr. Obama said after the vote. “This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like.”
Minutes after the bill was approved, the House passed a package of changes to it and sent it to the Senate. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, has promised House Democrats that the Senate would quickly take up the reconciliation bill with the changes in it, and that he had secured the votes to pass it.
Mr. Obama urged the Senate to quickly complete the final pieces of the legislation. “Some have predicted another siege of parliamentary maneuvering in order to delay it,” he said in a short speech from the White House. “I hope that’s not the case.”
“It’s time to bring this debate to a close and begin the hard work of implementing this reform properly on behalf of the American people.”
Mr. Obama watched the roll call with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the Roosevelt Room inside the White House. Since Monday, the president had spoken with 92 lawmakers, either in person or by telephone, the White House said.
“We rose above the weight of our politics,” Mr. Obama said from the East Room, where he made his statement shortly before midnight. “We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges.”
“Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party,” he continued. “It’s a victory for the American people and it’s a victory for common sense.”
Democrats hailed the votes as historic, comparable to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security and a long overdue step forward in social justice.
“This is the civil rights act of the 21st century,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House.
Republicans said the plan would saddle the nation with unaffordable levels of debt, leave states with expensive new obligations, weaken Medicare and give the government a huge new role in the health care system.
The debate on the legislation has highlighted the deep partisan and ideological divides in the nation and set up a bitter midterm Congressional election campaign, with Republicans promising an effort to repeal it or block its provisions in the states.
Read the full story here.
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