Yes we can !

March 22, 2010

At the end of last year it seemed that the Democrats would have an easy going for the adoption in the Senate of the health care bill, but finally they lost their so much wanted 61st vote with the appointment – in January – of the Republican Scott Brown instead of the Democrat Maria Coakley.

So another strategy was needed to have the bill passed: this time the way through the House would be tried where the Democrats have a clear majority, although it is well-known that not all ‘Dems’ are in favor of the bill.

After a hectic week with many personal discussions between President Obama and several reluctant House Democrats, the House has approved – yesterday 21 March – the Senate bill on health care reform. The vote was very close: finally 219 Democrats approved the bill with a ‘yea’ and 34 Democrats + all (178) Republicans  – so 212 in total – rejected it with a ‘nay’.

The bill passed only after some last hurdles were removed: earlier on a reconciliation procedure was proposed and agreed. And, yesterday afternoon, a deal was reached between the White House and the anti-abortion Democrats, lead by Democrat Bart Stupak, whereby President Obama gave his assurance that an executive order would be added so that no federal funding would be given to abortion.

It was a bitter struggle, both outside around Capitol Hill as well as inside Congress: the opponants argued that the bill would give them less freedom and it would cost too much, and they also feared it would give lead to too much government intervention. Those in favor of the bill argued that more people would now finally receive health care and they hailed the victory votes as a historic advance in social justice.

The vote in the House of Representatives was a crucial one but there is still more to come. Immediately after the approvement of the bill, the House approved also a reconciliation bill: a package of changes agreed among House and Senate Democrats and the White House and that package will go to the Senate for action as soon as this week in what would be the final step.

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