Pass the bill.
House Democrats initiated a 72-hour countdown Thursday on their yearlong effort to overhaul the health care system, unveiling a nearly final version of the legislation that promptly won additional support with a promise that the bill would more than pay for itself over the next decade.
Armed with detailed legislative language and a report on the bill’s costs from the Congressional Budget Office, Democratic leaders and White House officials kicked off a new round of arm-twisting to line up the votes they will need to pass the legislation when it comes to the House floor in the face of intense Republican opposition on Sunday.
House Democratic leaders were still struggling Thursday to lock in the 216 votes they need to pass the bill. They are believed to be at least a half-dozen votes short, but say they are confident they can secure the needed votes.
With the fate of his top domestic priority still up in the air,President Obama postponed a foreign trip that he had been scheduled to start Sunday to be on hand for the final House vote and a subsequent round of voting that would begin in the Senate next week to complete work on the bill.
The legislation’s chances seemed to be improved by the budget office report, which estimated that it would reduce projected federal budget deficits by $138 billion over the next decade, with additional tax revenue and Medicaresavings. Many of the House Democrats who have continued to waver over the bill had been concerned about its long-term costs. The bill would provide insurance coverage to most of the uninsured, put new restrictions on insurers and seek to lower rising health care costs.
The version of the bill unveiled on Thursday is based on the bill passed by the Senate in December, but it incorporates a package of changes that would address concerns raised by House Democrats. Under the timetable outlined by Democratic leaders, the House on Sunday would pass the Senate bill and then immediately approve a package of changes. If signed by Mr. Obama, the first bill would become the law of the land, but the second one would go to the Senate, where it could be approved by a simple majority, using a procedure intended to avoid the threat of Republican filibuster.
Pass the bill. Today is the day to make history. History will prove you right.