Ending the Democrats’ decades-long quest to create a healthcare safety net to match Social Security, the House of Representatives on Sunday night approved sweeping legislation to guarantee Americans access to medical care for the first time, delivering President Obama the biggest victory of his young presidency.
The bill, which passed 219 to 212 without a single Republican vote, would make a nearly $1-trillion commitment in taxpayer money over the next decade to help an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans get health coverage.
And it would establish a broad new framework of government regulation to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage and, advocates hope, to begin making healthcare more affordable to most Americans.
“Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics,” the president said in a televised address from the East Room of the White House after the House completed its last vote. “We proved we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges.”
On the House floor, Democrats erupted into cheers of “Yes, we can!” at 10:45 p.m. Eastern time as the decisive 216th “yes” vote was recorded, capping a tortuous campaign that several senior lawmakers linked to the historic battle for civil rights two generations earlier.
“This is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century,” said Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the top-ranking black member of the House….
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