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Health Care Vote: Latest Developments


The House began a series of votes at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time that culminated in a final vote in the House on the health care package around 11:00 p.m. is providing regular updates on the situation in the House below.

Updated 12:29 a.m. ET

The Vote: The House has now passed the Senate bill 219-212, marking the culmination of more than a year of often-contentious debate over legislation that will reshape one-sixth of the U.S. economy. It passed the reconciliation bill soon after. Even if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill, President Obama will be able to sign a health care reform package into law. Click here for more.

A Look At What's in the Bill

Earlier, the final vote on rule for debate on the Senate and reconciliation bills passed around 6:30 p.m. It passed by a 224 to 206 margin, setting up two hours of final debate. (Note: The debate went on until about 10:45 p.m. "Two hours" in the House actually takes quite a bit longer than that.) Every Republicans and 24 Democrats voted against passage of the rule, but the vote was taken as an indicator that Democrats had the necessary votes for the bill. 


Obama: This is What Change Looks Like: President Obama, with Vice President Biden at his side, hailed historic passage of the health care reform package Sunday evening, stating that the vote proves government "still works for the people."

Passage, he said, showed that lawmakers "didn't give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear."

"Instead," he said, "we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things."

The president thanked members of Congress, stating that while they didn't have an easy vote, they made "the right vote." He also thanked his staff, the vice president and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The vote, he said, "answers the dreams of so many who have fought for this reform." He said the package was "worthy of the people we were sent here to serve" and hailed the people who had fought for it, among those who knocked on doors to encourage their neighbors to back the bill.

"This moment is possible because of you," said the president.

Mr. Obama went through the bill's provisions, stating that "this isn't radical reform, but it is major reform."

The bill "will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction," he said. "This is what change looks like."

The president called passage a "victory for common sense." He said there will be a "frenzy of instant analysis" over the political implications of passage, but that "long after the debate fades away and the prognostication fades away and the dust settles," what will be left over will be "a health care system that incorporates ideas from both parties."

The president called on the Senate to pass the House reconciliation bill quickly, an unlikely prospect as Republicans have vowed to try to send the bill back to the House and slow down the process with amendments.

He said that while "the work of "revitalizing our economy goes on," lawmakers now "march on with renewed confidence, energized by this victory on their behalf."

It meant "another stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American dream," he said.

Mr. Obama said lawmakers had "answered the call of history."

"We did not shrink from our challenge, we overcame it," he said. "We did not fear our future, we shaped it."

A White House aide told CBS News the president watched the House vote with Biden and staff in the Roosevelt Room. The aide said there were high fives and hugs all around after the vote. (See photo here.)


Stupak Called "Baby Killer" for Backing Bill: An unknown person yelled out "baby killer" while Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) was speaking on the House floor Sunday evening.

Stupak announced Sunday afternoon that he would back the Senate health care bill despite his strong opposition to abortion rights. (See below.) He had previously indicated that he would not vote for the bill because he believed it did not guarantee that there would be no taxpayer funding for abortions.

His change of heart came as President Obama agreed to release an executive order backing up the existing ban on taxpayer funding for abortion. The White House released the executive order minutes before Stupak announced his decision.

Stupak was the leader of a coalition of roughly six like-minded Democrats who decided to support the bill, which passed by just three votes.

It is not yet known whether it was a member of the House or someone in the gallery who shouted out the comment.

Stupak was speaking after the Senate bill passed and Republicans moved to quash the bill, citing in part the abortion issue.

Early Reaction: Upon passage of the Senate bill, the president of the health insurance industry lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans, Karen Ignagni, released a statement following the vote saying, "The access expansions are a significant step forward, but this legislation will exacerbate the health care costs crisis facing many working families and small businesses."

The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, released a statement saying that "5 flip-flopping Democrats cast a career ending vote." Chairman Michael Steele said "today, America witnessed the first vote for the end of representative government."

GOP senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, whose special election to Ted Kennedy's seat was once thought to have doomed the bill, condemned passage, saying "the American people deserve better."

Vicki Kennedy, Kennedy's widow, released a statement celebrating the bill.

"As Ted Kennedy said, across the decades, in the best and the most discouraging hours, health care was the cause of his life," she said. "Tonight that cause becomes more than a dream, it becomes America's commitment."

Boehner Tells Democrats: Shame on You: At the end of almost four hours of debate, 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 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.

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.

Stupak Watch: Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, a strong opponent of abortion rights, decided to vote in favor of the House version of the health care bill despite his objections to its language on abortion.

"We've been able to come up with an agreement to respect the sanctity of life on health care reform," Stupak said at an afternoon press conference. He said he had always supported health care reform but could not support the package unless he was absolutely confident that there would be no public funding for abortion.


Stupak's change of heart came as President Obama agreed to release an executive order backing up the existing ban on taxpayer funding for abortion. The White House released the executive order minutes before Stupak announced his decision.

The pro-abortion-rights National Organization for women soon released a statement saying it was "incensed" by the White House move. The anti-abortion-rights Susan B. Anthony List, meanwhile, stripped Stupak of its "Defender of Life" award.

Stupak had opposed the bill because he didn't feel its language restricting taxpayer funding of abortion was sufficiently strong, and he said he had a block of lawmakers who would vote with him unless changes were made to the bill or there was a separate vote on abortion. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled out a separate vote and the nature of budget reconciliation meant that changes to the Senate abortion language could not be made. 

When asked by reporter if Democrats have enough votes to pass health care during the press conference, Stupak said, "We're well past 216."

Read more on Stupak's announcement and the text of the executive order

Stupak was joined at the press conference by six other lawmakers, including Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who had said previously she would vote yes, and Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), who all said they would now be yes votes. Rep. Marion Berry, an Arkansas Democrat, released a statement after the announcement saying he would still oppose the bill because of its abortion language.

A group of Republican lawmakers who oppose abortion rights, meanwhile, held a press conference in the late afternoon saying the executive order is "not worth the paper it is printed on" because it can be rescinded.  One called President Obama "the most pro-abortion president in history." They called for Stupak and the lawmakers other anti-abortion rights lawmakers who have vowed to back the bill to change their minds.

Tea Party Protesters: Protesters against the bill rallied at the Capitol again Sunday, a day after reports that some directed racial and homophobic slurs at members of Congress who supported the bill. (At left, Huffington Post video of Jesse Jackson facing off with protesters Sunday.)

Sunday's protests were mostly peaceful, with opponents of the bill chanting and waving signs, though the Wall Street Journal reports that at one point "an argument erupted on the lawn, with protesters accusing a passer-by of calling them 'crackers' and 'rednecks.'" Protesters also entered the House Gallery, with individuals creating a disturbance during an early vote and eventually being escorted out by Capitol Police. Republicans, meanwhile, went to a House balcony to cheer on the protesters and encourage them to keep calling for Democrats to "kill the bill." Many of the bill's opponents continued to protest even after the sun went down.  

On Saturday, Rep. Andre Carson said he and Rep. John Lewis had racial slurs yelled at them as they left the Cannon House Office Building, with protesters chanting what he referred to as "the N-word" fifteen times. An anti-gay slur was reportedly also heard being directed at Rep. Barney Frank by an elderly white man. Pelosi linked arms with Lewis while being heckled by protesters Sunday morning.

Protesters Target McConnell: After he appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" this morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was approached by a camera crew and a man who said, "Senator, thank you for all the hard work you do for Wall Street an big insurance." The man then threw money in the air, which floated to the ground as McConnell, without a word, walked to his car. As an expletive was heard, the man said there was "more on the way" if McConnell opposed the bill. (watch at left.)

President Obama: A White House official said Mr. Obama spent Sunday in the West Wing getting updates on the health care vote, checking in with staff, "and like the rest of America, examining the rubble of his NCAA bracket."

The president also spoke with wavering House members on the phone in the run-up to the final vote. He spent much of his day in White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's office with his legislative team, according to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs; the White House released two photos of him, one of which is below and one of which is posted here.


Asked whether the president is watching basketball or the House debate during the NCAA tournament, Gibbs told CBS News he was watching "mostly basketball."

The White House announced Sunday that Mr. Obama will make a statement following the House vote. If the Senate bill passes the House it goes to the president's desk. 

Gibbs told CBS News Correspondent Peter Maer there's been no decision on when the president will sign the bill.

Gibbs said Mr. Obama "probably will sign it later in the week but not tonight."

A White House aide tells CBS News Mr. Obama has had over 90 phone calls and/or meetings with members of Congress on health care reform over the past week.

Democratic Strategy: With many of the health care bill's provisions taking effect until 2014, Pelosi's office has been instructing Democrats to focus on those provisions that kick in immediately. Among them:

  • A ban on insurance companies canceling the policies of people who get sick;

  • A ban on denying health insurance policies to children with preexisting conditions;

  • A ban on lifetime coverage limits as well as restrictive annual limits on coverage for new plans;
  • A $250 rebate for seniors hit by the Medicare Part D "Donut Hole," the first step in a move to close the Donut Hole by 2020;

  • And extending a child's health insurance through their parents' policy until age 27.

Democrats, meanwhile, took to the floor to hail expected passage of the bill;  Said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC): "This is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century."

Republican Strategy: House Republicans raised objections and made procedural motions in an effort to delay or even halt vote on the bill on the House floor, though the moves seemed only to draw out a seemingly-inevitable march toward a final vote. (House Democrats adopted rules that gave Republicans little opportunity to make a serious dent in the process.)  Over the course of the day, many appeared on the House floor to again denounce what they continued to cast as a "flawed" "government takeover" of health care. California Rep. Devin Nunes suggested that through passage of the bill Democrats "will finally lay the cornerstone of their Socialist utopia on the backs of the American people."

House Republican Leader John Boehner, meanwhile, released a statement suggesting that the reconciliation bill, which would make changes to the Senate bill, is in doubt because it contains provisions that can't be passed under reconciliation, which is limited to budget matters. He also said Democrats in the Senate won't meet with Senate Parliamentarians to discuss a change to Social Security in the bill, a claim Democrats deem "absurd." Boehner suggests that the situation means the Senate bill -- which he writes includes "the 'Cornhusker Kickback,' the 'Louisiana Purchase,' the 'Gator-Aid' deal for Florida, and every other payoff, kickback, and sweetheart deal" -- will become law, as opposed to the reconciliation version that strips out many of those deals.

Boehner told his fellow Republicans at a closed-door meeting Sunday to "behave like grown-ups" and not taunt Democrats if the bill passes, the Hill reports.

More Coverage of Health Care Reform:

House Passes Health Care Bill
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
What, Me Worry? Obama Watches Basketball
Stupak Called "Baby Killer" for Backing Bill Special Report: Health Care

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