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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid