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.In addition to including a public option, the bill calls for a number of major reforms, which you can understand in broad strokes by reading this post.
All day Saturday, Obama’s Organizing for America campaign arm run by the Democratic National Committee was asking supporters to help at the last minute via email and Twitter.
“House vote on health reform is imminent. This is a once-in-a-generation moment. Be part of it,” the DNC tweeted to the Obama feed’s more than 2.6 million followers. It directed supporters to a page allowing them to directly tweet their lawmakers.
OFA also asked 13 million supporters on the email list to call their Republican representatives and ask for their votes.
The White House is sure to hail the House vote as historic, but there are many more steps ahead before a health care bill makes it to Obama’s desk. Follow TPMDC’s health care coverage here.
Additional reporting by Brian Beutler.