Health care bill passes House vote
President Barack Obama claimed a significant political victory on Sunday when the Democratic-controlled Congress voted to approve legislation that would extend health care coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and impose stricter regulations on the insurance industry.
The House of Representatives voted 219-212 to pass the Senate health care bill that was passed in December. With all 178 House Republicans and 34 Democrats opposed to the Senate bill, the majority party was barely able to secure the 216 votes needed to send the legislation to Obama for signature.
All 20 Texas House Republicans voted against the bill, joined by Democrat Chet Edwards (Waco). The remaining 11 Texas Democrats voted in support of the bill.
Obama, who made health care reform the top domestic priority of his presidency when taking office in January 2009, is expected to sign the bill into law Tuesday.
The historic legislation brings a brutal battle between the two major political parties closer to an end after more than a year of debate in Congress.
Later Sunday evening, the House passed a smaller package of changes to the Senate bill with a 220-211 vote. The measure will be sent to the Senate, which is expected to take it up for debate this week.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told House Democrats on Saturday that he had the “commitment of a significant majority” of Senate Democrats to approve the package of fixes.
If the measure is approved, it would also be sent to Obama for signature.
The Associated Press reported that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 32 million previously uninsured Americans would gain coverage under the conditions of the bill passed Sunday. The CBO also said that insurance companies would no longer be able to deny individuals coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.
The bill will also have a direct effect on college students, as it calls for all student loans to be provided by the government instead of banks and private lenders.