By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst
March 21, 2010 – The nail-biting is over and Congress has passed a historic health care bill that will provide health care for more than 30 million Americans.
The floor of the House erupted with applause when the magic number of 216 was reached passing H.R. 3590. The final tally 219-210 was swiftly followed with a vote on reconciliation H.R. 4872 in a voice vote.
Republicans made a last-ditch effort to kill the bill with an appeal to recommit the bill, which would have sent the bill back to committee; it failed in a voice vote as well as a roll call, 220 -211. This was followed with a vote on reconciliation which also failed, 232 -199, clearing the way for the bill’s last hurdle – passage in the Senate.
President Obama addressed the American people from the White House East Room flanked by Vice President Joe Biden calling the vote for comprehensive health care, “the right thing to do.”
“We proved that this government, a government of the people and by the people, still works for the people,” Obama said. As White House advisors looked on, the president thanked all those who worked on getting this bill passed. “I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people but it was the right vote.”
The president worked feverishly in recent weeks to help get this bill across the finish line. He postponed and then cancelled a trip abroad to stay close to the negotiations. “This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform. This is what change looks like,” Obama added.
“The United States Congress finally declared that America’s workers and America’s families and small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here in this country neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they worked a lifetime to achieve,” Obama said.
House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who spent months “whipping” Democrats in line for a night like Sunday, told reporters after the president’s remarks, “This has been a labor of love, and I do mean that.” Clyburn said, “I consider this to be the Civil Rights Act of the 20th century.”
How will you benefit from the passage of health care reform?