Obama calls on Dems to pass health care
(AP) - Victory within reach, President Barack Obamarallied House Democrats on Saturday for a final health care push,and party leaders appeared confident they had overcome a flare-upover abortion funding restrictions in the legislation.
Building on Democrats' momentum, House leaders decided on astraight up-or-down vote on Obama's top priority and the definingissue of his first year in office, backing off a much-challengedplan to vote on the bill indirectly. With the vote scheduled forSunday, the battle tilted in Obama's direction as more Democratsdisclosed how they would vote.
The president decided to make a final personal appeal with aSaturday afternoon visit to the Capitol. He spoke after SenateMajority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reassured House rank and filethat the Senate will complete the legislation. More than 50Democratic senators have signed a pledge to do, Reid's spokesmansaid.
The legislation, affecting virtually every American and morethan a year in the making, would extend coverage to an estimated 32million uninsured, bar insurers from denying coverage on the basisof existing medical conditions and cut federal deficits by anestimated $138 billion over a decade.
Congressional analysts estimate the cost of the two billscombined would be $940 billion over a decade.
Democratic leaders and Obama focused last-minute lobbyingefforts on two groups of Democrats: 37 who voted against an earlierbill in the House and 40 who voted for it only after first makingsure it would include strict abortion limits that now have beenmodified.
The House Rules Committee worked through the day Saturday to setthe terms for the vote. Democratic leaders dropped plans to "deemand pass" the bill with a vote simply on the rule, a procedureused by both parties but one that has been widely criticized forlegislation as massive as health care overhaul.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the House would vote on the fix-itcompanion bill and then the Senate bill. Hoyer said the latterwould go to Obama for his signature while the companion bill headsto the Senate. The No. 2 House Democrat said he has seen the letterfrom Reid indicating he has the necessary votes.