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The House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for comprehensive reforms to the American health care system and universal insurance coverage, marking a major milestone in the battle for health care reform.

It's the first time in the nation's history a chamber of Congress has gotten this far as the House passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act by a vote of 220-215.

The vote came after President Obama made a last-minute appeal to his party during the House Democratic Caucus, asking them to "answer the call" of history.

Democrat after Democrat cited history on the House floor during the rare Saturday session, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying generations of Americans have wanted health care reform.

"Today the call will be answered," Pelosi said, citing the late Sen. Teddy Kennedy who called health care reform the "great unfinished business of our society."

Earlier in the day, lawmakers were getting Pelosi's signature on their copies of the bill.

All but one of the Republicans opposed the bill after a day of debate, joining 39 Democrats who voted 'No.' Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) was the only Republican to vote for it.

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The GOP alternative to the House Dems' health reform bill, or the Boehner alternative, failed in a 258-176 vote. One Republican -- Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL) -- actually voted against the amendment.

Earlier this week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its evaluation of the bill. The judgment was that the alternative insured almost nobody. Read the full report here.

The amendment introduced by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) to the House Democrats' health care bill passed Saturday night in a 240-194 vote. No Republicans voted against the amendment, though Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) voted "present" as a means of protest against the general bill up for debate.

The amendment "explicitly bars federal subsidies from going to plans that cover abortion," The Hill reports. Rep. Jane Schakowsky (D-IL) took a public lead in fighting it, telling C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" about Democratic efforts to organize against the amendment.

Read the text of the amendment here. See the roll call of the vote here.

Republicans already let the world know they will unanimously oppose the health care bill tonight, but now they are mocking Democratic divisions as more members of the majority party announce they can't support the plan in its current form.

(Watch the debate live here.)

Staffers in Minority Whip Eric Cantor's office are having some fun today, and are sending reporters updates when Democrats announce their plans to vote "No."

Cantor says: "There will be one bipartisan vote today, and that is against Speaker Pelosi's overhaul of health care. There will not be a bipartisan vote for this bill."

Here's the list they compiled of Democrats who won't back the bill, as of 6:30 p.m. (Updated.)

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Here are President Obama's remarks on health care, made from the White House Rose Garden hours before the House was expected to vote on a sweeping reform bill:

Good afternoon, everybody. I just want to say a few words about the landmark vote that the House of Representatives is poised to take today -- a vote that can bring us one step closer to making real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people.

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President Obama is calling on representatives to pass the sweeping health care reform bill scheduled for a floor vote tonight.

"This is our moment to live up to the trust that the American people have put in us," he said in a public address on the grounds of the White House just now.

"I urge members of Congress to rise to this moment, answer the call of history, and vote 'yes' for health insurance reform for America," Obama said.

Obama made the speech shortly after returning from a closed-door meeting with House Democrats at the Capitol.

The House is expected to vote on the measure late tonight, read our primer here.

Read Obama's full statement here.

President Obama rallied House Democrats this afternoon on the eve of a major vote on health care.

After he was done outlining the historic significance of the vote, some members spontaneously started chanting "Fired Up, Ready to Go" the White House told reporters.

White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters that Obama told the caucus they had a unique opportunity before them:

"The President made the case that Congress has a historic opportunity today to provide stability and security for those who have insurance, affordable coverage for those who don't and bring down the cost of health care for families, small businesses and the government. He said that we have made more progress on comprehensive reform than any administration and any Congress in the past 70 years - and we should take this historic opportunity to pass health care reform so that he can sign a bill by the end of this year.

The White House also moved up the president's statement by an hour, he's expected to talk in the Rose Garden any moment.

Obama Praises Heroism At Fort Hood In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama discussed the shooting at Fort Hood, and paid tribute to the heroism of both military and civilian personnel at the base:

"And yet, even as we saw the worst of human nature on full display, we also saw the best of America," said Obama. "We saw soldiers and civilians alike rushing to aid fallen comrades; tearing off bullet-riddled clothes to treat the injured; using blouses as tourniquets; taking down the shooter even as they bore wounds themselves. We saw soldiers bringing to bear on our own soil the skills they had been trained to use abroad; skills that been honed through years of determined effort for one purpose and one purpose only: to protect and defend the United States of America."

Barbour: New Jersey And Virginia Elections Show America Rejecting The Democrats In this weekend's Republican address, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) claimed that this past Tuesday's gubernatorial elections represent a rejection of President Obama's and the Democrats' agenda:

"This week also saw the first big elections since this administration and its Democrat Majority in Congress took control of our federal government. The results made clear the American people don't like where the Democrats are trying to take our country," said Barbour. "Virginia and New Jersey elected new governors Tuesday, and in both cases, voters chose Republican governors to succeed the Democrats elected four years ago. Both are states that President Obama carried by large margins last year."

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There's still a chance that tonight's House vote on a health care reform bill may not happen -- or that even if it does, it may not with a victory for Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership.

Apparently, House GOP conference chair Mike Pence knows something journalists and political observers don't about the bill's chances tonight. He just posted this to his official website:


(h/t Glenn Thrush)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders just emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting that included a personal appearance by President Obama confident the House will pass a sweeping health care reform bill today.

Addressing reporters outside the caucus meeting room just now, Pelosi looked back briefly before announcing what seemed like a deal to pass reform.

It was three years ago today that Pelosi led Democrats to retake the House after more than a decade of Republican control. She said the date was "appropriate."

"It is appropriate that the promise we made [to voters] ... will be manifested today," she said. "We will pass health care reform."

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