The House of Representatives took a historic step on Saturday night, passing the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill and bringing supporters closer to passing the first major overhaul of the U.S. health in almost half a century. As the time allotted for the vote expired, cheers and applause broke out on the floor of the House.
In order to pass the bill, Democrats needed a majority, or 218 votes. They got 220 — 219 Democrats, and a single Republican, Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao. Voting against were 39 Democrats and 176 Republicans.
Earlier in the night, pro-life Democrats successfully added an amendment to the bill; the language, part of a deal breaking an impasse over abortion that threatened to torpedo the vote, imposes restrictions on coverage of abortion.
Update: The White House just sent out a statement from President Obama. It reads:
Tonight, in an historic vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would finally make real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people.
The Affordable Health Care for America Act is a piece of legislation that will provide stability and security for Americans who have insurance; quality affordable options for those who don’t; and bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the government while strengthening the financial health of Medicare. And it is legislation that is fully paid for and will reduce our long-term federal deficit.
Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America. Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation. I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.