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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yes We Can and The Dream Will Never Die! Health Care Reform Passes

George Wenschhof

The late Senator Edward Kennedy and his phrase "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream will never die" is what comes to my mind after watching the House pass health care reform for Americans. He spent a lifetime advocating for those less fortunate and working tirelessly for health care reform.

A brain tumor kept him from seeing this day, but not before he had endorsed Barack Obama in the closely contested Democratic presidential primary in 2008 and helping him win the presidency.

Perhaps, it was fitting it was President Obama and his leadership which helped bring Democrats together to pass this legislation.

On a long day, at 10:45 PM ET, a day that will go down in history, the House voted 219-212 to concur with Senate amendment and passed health care reform. Numerous procedural delays were used by obstructionist Republicans, to no avail, in an attempt to derail the passage and to slow the approval process down.

As expected, no Republican voted for the bill, in spite of the fact over 200 Republican amendments were included in the bill.

After Republicans failed in an attempt to derail passage with a motion to recommit, the amendments to the bill to send to the Senate were passed with a 220-211 vote.

The day long session was punctuated by the late afternoon announcement by Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) indicating he and his group of 6 had reached agreement with President Obama to vote "Yes" for the health care reform bill. Stupak and some other pro-life Democrats were concerned with the Senate bill language pertaining to the potential use of federal funds for abortions.

As I reported this morning, they had been working on a deal for the President to issue an executive order clarifying no federal funds would be used for abortions. They reached agreement this afternoon and the President has released the text of the executive order he will sign. You can read it

Two votes which passed after this announcement, signaled passage of the bill was assured. The first was a procedural vote on rules which passed 228-202 and the second was the rule for debate which passed 224-206; both without a Republican voting in favor.

After the President signs the bill into law, the amendments voted on by the House will be taken up by the Senate using the "budget reconciliation" process where the Democrats will need a simple majority vote. Republicans are expected to continue their obstructionist ways and challenge many of these amendments. The senate parliamentarian is expected to get quite a work-out as a result.

Vice President Joe Biden may also become the man of the hour as he has the ability to break a 50-50 tie vote in the Senate and he has the authority to over rule the parliamentarian.

Finally, after more than a half century of U.S. Presidents; both Republican and Democrats, expressing their desire for health care reform for Americans, the time is here.


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