At the end of almost four hours of debate Sunday night, House Republican Leader John Boehner and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made memorable final statements in advance of a historic health care vote.
Boehner took the floor and proclaimed, acknowledging likely passage, that he had a "sad and heavy heart."
He said "no one in this body" believes the bill is satisfactory and argued "we have failed to listen to America, and we have failed to reflect the will of our constituents."
"Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen," said Boehner.
He grew agitated when asking rhetorical questions about the impact of the bill, asking members if they could really promise their constituents that it would not have a variety of negative consequences.
"Do you really believe that if you like the health plan that you have that you can keep it? No you can't," he said. At one point he offered an angry "hell no" to one of his rhetorical questions.
In response to noises from the gallery in response to Boehner, Rep. David Obey, acting as speaker, said, "Both sides would do well to remember the dignity of the House."
"I beg you...do not further strike at the heart of this country and this institution with arrogance, for surely you will not strike with impunity," Boehner said.
He asked for a roll call vote to be taken, as opposed to an electronic vote tally, a call Obey denied. Roll call votes are almost never taken in the House.
After Boehner, Pelosi rose to speak to a standing ovation from Democrats in the gallery.
She said the House was about to "make history for our country and progress for the American people."
The bill, she said, would lead to "healthier lives, more liberty to pursue hopes and dreams and happiness."
"This is an American proposal that honors the traditions of our country," Pelosi said in a more measured address than Boehner. She hailed President Obama's leadership on health care.
She added that the one word to use to describe the legislation is "opportunity," and said it would unleash "entrepreneurial power" in the economy because it meant people could change jobs or start a small business without risking their health insurance.
"With this health care reform, 32 million more Americans will have health care insurance, and those who have insurance now will be spared being at the mercy of the health insurance industry," Pelosi said.
Once the bill passes, she added, "being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing medical condition."
She also noted that the bill has more than 200 Republican amendments, even if it lacked Republican votes.
The vote, she said, "honored the character of this country," calling health care a "right, not a privilege."
"The time has chosen us," said Pelosi.
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