News / Health

Democrats Say They Are '24 Hours Away' from Passing Historic Health Care Reform

Cindy Saine

President Barack Obama gave an impassioned plea to Democratic members of the House of Representatives to vote their conscience and pass sweeping health care reform legislation to help ordinary Americans.  Democratic leaders say they are now confident they have the 216 votes needed to pass the bill in the House in a vote expected late Sunday.  

House Democrats were exuberant on Saturday when they welcomed President Obama to the Capitol Visitor Center with loud shouts and cheers.  

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer cited a long list of former U.S. presidents, including former Presidents Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt who said they wanted all Americans to have access to quality, affordable health care.  But he said President Obama was going to be the one to finally get health care reform done. "All the presidents I just quoted tried to get something done, and it was not done.  On Sunday, tomorrow, we will do it," he said.

President Obama also expressed assurance that after a year of debate in Congress, against united Republican opposition, and after much wrangling among Democrats, the time for action has come. "It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow," he said.

Both the House and the Senate passed separate versions of health care reform legislation late last year, but they need to send one bill to President Obama to sign into law.  House leaders announced Saturday that they are going to hold a direct vote on the Senate bill, and another vote on a package of corrections to it.

Mr. Obama said though the bill is not perfect, it will extend health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured, and stop private insurance companies from dropping customers who have serious illnesses or from excluding children with pre-existing medical conditions. "This is the toughest insurance reforms in history. We are making sure that the system of private insurance works for ordinary families," he said.

The president has made health care reform the cornerstone of his domestic agenda, taking a significant political risk.  But he told lawmakers that the vote is not about him, and asked them to remember why they ever got into politics in the first place. "Don't do it for me.  Don't do it for the Democratic Party, do it for the American people.  They are the ones who are looking for action right now," he said.

Republicans remain firmly against the legislation.  The top House Republican, Minority Leader John Boehner, said in the party's weekly radio and Internet address the American people have made it clear that they also oppose the bill. "We have seen standing-room only crowds at town meetings, rallies in towns and cities across the country, and now jammed phone lines on Capitol Hill, all of this coming from citizens yelling 'Stop!' at the top of their lungs," he said.

Opinion polls show the American people are sharply divided over the Democrats' reform bill, and the insurance industry has lobbied hard against it with negative TV and print media ads.

Outside the Capitol, hundreds of protesters voiced their angry opposition to the Democrats' reform bill, with many carrying signs that said "Kill the bill!"  Some booed at President Obama's motorcade as it drove by and yelled at lawmakers as they entered the Capitol, "You work for us!"

If the House passes the Senate bill and a corrections-package on Sunday, a corresponding corrections package will go to the Senate, where it could be approved by a simple 51 vote majority.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid also had good news for the House Democrats and President Obama Saturday. "We need a simple majority to make the good law even better. So I am happy to announce I have the commitment of a significant majority of the U.S. Senate to make that good law even better," he said.

Republicans have warned wavering Democrats that voters may punish them for a vote for health care reform in congressional elections in November. But President Obama said it would be harder for Republicans to, in his words, mischaracterize the bill when it becomes law and people see that nothing terrible happens to them, and many are actually helped.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs