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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid