Health-care reform has passed this evening, as Congress has given final approval to the legislation that will provide medical coverage for millions of uninsured Americans, aligned with Barack Obama’s vision (the president celebrated the news with a “Yes We Can” tweet). The final vote of 219 to 212 comes after a weekend of intense debate and a year of conflict over the issue.
To loud cheers from the audience, Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the closing speech, in which she said the new legislation “will lead to healthier lives, [and] more liberty to pursue hopes and dreams of the American people.” She ended by quoting fellow lawmaker John Lewis: “We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.” Democratic lawmakers emphasized the historic nature of the vote, with Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina calling it the “civil rights act of the 21st century” and Representative Marcy Kaptur claiming the passing represented “a new day in America.”
No Republicans voted in favor of the legislation. Representative Paul D. Ryan derided the bill as “a fiscal Frankenstein.” And Representative Virginia Foxx went further, trashing it as “one of the most offensive pieces of social engineering legislation in the history of the United States.” And Republican outrage at the bill reached new heights tonight, as CNN reported that a Republican member of Congress yelled “baby killer” during Representative Bart Stupak’s floor speech stating anti-abortion Democrats’ support of the bill.
Obama is scheduled to speak about the vote at around 11:45 p.m. tonight.