Barack Obama’s healthcare reform bill passes first hurdle

Published on Times online.co.uk, November 8, 2009.

The US House of Representatives approved the broadest overhaul of US health care in four decades overnight, handing President Barack Obama a hard-fought victory that energised his top domestic priority. Heeding Mr Obama’s appeal to “answer the call of history,” lawmakers capped 12 hours of bitter debate with a 220-215 vote for a 10-year, $US1 trillion-dollar plan to extend health coverage to some 36 million Americans who lack it now. “Tonight, in an historic vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would finally make real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people,” Mr Obama said in a statement shortly after the vote …

… The landmark vote was a huge step for Mr Obama, who has staked much of his political capital on the healthcare battle. A loss in the House would have ended the fight, impaired the rest of his legislative agenda and left Democrats vulnerable to big losses in next year’s congressional elections. Mr Obama said he was “absolutely confident” that the Senate would pass its own bill, stressing: “I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.” (full text).

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