Obama's Next Task: Selling the Health Care Bill

On "Washington Unplugged" Monday, John Dickerson spoke with CBS News White House Correspondent Chip Reid and CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes about last night's historic health care vote. The debate Sunday night was fierce and contentious. The House barely approved the bill, which was originally passed by the Senate last Christmas, by a 219-212 vote margin.

No Republicans voted for the bill, and 34 Democrats voted against it. President Obama is expected the sign the bill into law as early as Tuesday, which will allow the Senate to put some finishing touches on the legislation through reconciliation. But Chip Reid told Dickerson that the president's work is not yet done.

"Now the hard part starts, and the White House has to sell this to the country," said Reid. The White House announced that Mr. Obama will take that show on the road Thursday with a stop in Iowa City, Iowa.

One of the biggest victors last night was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who was able to successfully garner enough votes to ensure the passage of the legislation. Although Pelosi joked afterwards that she knew all week she had the votes necessary to ensure victory, Nancy Cordes says it came down to the wire.

"Truth be told, she really didn't have the votes until right at the very end," said Cordes. "They were making deals all through the weekend."

One of the key deals was with anti-abortion Democrats. Cordes noted that Pelosi and others were prepared to forge ahead without the support of this bloc of Democrats, but realized they were necessary as the final vote drew closer.

"[Pelosi] got an executive order from the president reiterating the ban on Federal money being used to fund abortions," said Cordes, "And that appears to be what put them over the top, that 216 [votes] they clinched just a few hours before the vote."

Socially conservative Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) changed his vote to "yes" on Sunday after language on abortion was changed to his and other conservative Democrat's satisfaction., thanks to the promised executive order.

Watch Washington Unplugged above, including an interview with comedian Joe Wong.

More Coverage of Health Care Reform: House Passes Health Care Bill
Poll: Health Care Reform Still Confusing
Health Care Bill Passed the House, But Battles Ahead in Senate, Court
Health Care Debate Shows Ideological Split
Obama: "This is What Change Looks Like"
Health Care Vote: How Each Representative Voted
Announcement of the Vote
Boehner Tells Democrats: Shame on You
Pelosi Urges House to "Make History"
Health Care Bill: What's In It?
Short-Term Effect of the Bill
Stupak Called "Baby Killer" for Backing Bill
CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

  • Evan Schwartz

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