Obama Praises Deals on Health Reform

US president also touts progress made during the climate change talks in Copenhagen

Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama says Senate Democrats' overnight compromise on health care reform is a step forward for the American people.  The president is also touting the progress made at the climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.

President Obama says the Democrats' agreement puts the United States on the cusp of making health care reform a reality. "It now appears that the American people will have the vote they deserve on genuine reform that offers security to those that have health insurance and affordable options for those who do not," he said.

After weeks of dealmaking, majority Democrats have agreed on a bill which would allow Americans to choose their health insurance from a variety of privately-run plans. 

The compromise will allow the Senate to vote on the bill in the coming week.  The House of Representatives has passed similar legislation.

President Obama has staked much of the success of his presidency on the health care issue.  He told reporters Saturday the proposal will extend health insurance to 30 million Americans who do not have it.

Friday's compromise gives Democrats the 60 votes they need in the 100-member Senate to pass the bill.  No Republicans are expected to vote for it.

In the Republican Party's weekly message, Senator John McCain says the legislation should be defeated. "The result will be a health care system that costs more and still leaves millions without coverage.  The hour is late, but there is still time to stop Congress from making this terrible mistake," he said.

President Obama returned to Washington overnight, after helping to work out a compromise agreement at the climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Mr. Obama says that for the first time in history, all the world's major economies have come together to confront the threat of climate change.

About 30 hours after he left, the president returned to Washington as a winter storm started to blanket the city with about 30 centimeters of snow.

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