The House of Representatives has narrowly approved the Senate’s version of the health care reform bill by a vote of 219-212.
Democrats hailed the votes as historic, comparable to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security and a long overdue step forward in social justice. “This is the civil rights act of the 21st century,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House. After a year of partisan combat and weeks of legislative brinksmanship, House Democrats and the White House clinched their victory only hours before the voting started on Sunday. They agreed to a deal with opponents of abortion rights within their party to reiterate in an executive order that federal money provided by the bill could not be used for abortions, giving the Democrats the final votes. Democrats said that in expanding access to health coverage for uninsured Americans, they were creating a new program every bit as important as Social Security and Medicare, while also putting downward pressure on rising health care costs and reining in federal budget deficits.
Not one Republican voted for the bill. At the moment the GOP is trying to inject a “bill killer” amendment about abortion. It’s not quite over yet.
UPDATE: The motion to recommit failed. Now they vote on the reconciliation bill.
UPDATE II: The House reconciliation bill has passed. The bill now goes back to the Senate for final reconciliation before landing on the president’s desk.