fter months of discussion and planning, the House of Representatives is finally voting on a historic health-care reform bill. If all goes according to expectations, sometime Sunday night the chamber will take a final vote both on the bill the Senate passed in December and a set of changes (known as the "reconciliation package") put together by House Democrats. Getting the bill through the House is President Obama's key remaining hurdle in enacting sweeping reform of America's healt-care system. Here are live reactions from pundits, journalists and experts to the events on Capitol Hill:
You've passed the bill, Dems — are you scared yet? "219 votes. Congratulations, Democrats. Beginning now, you own the health-care system in America. Every hiccup. Every complaint. Every long line. All yours." (Kathryn Jean Lopez @ The National Review)
Hurray! Now we can get sick! "The Senate bill just passed the House: 219–212. No Republicans voted for the bill. There's still another vote on the Stupak Amendment, but, basically, health care has been reformed. Let's go get a pre-existing condition!" (Adrien Chen @ Gawker)
You can't have it both ways, GOP: "The GOP's argument on the bill is 1) it's socialism and 2) it cuts Medicare too much? So, too socialist and not socialist enough? / Paul Ryan (R, Wis.) says European systems [are] unsustainable? And yet, if we had their spending, our deficit problem would disappear entirely." (Ezra Klein @ Twitter)
<YAWN> When does this end — and what's next? "Our congressional experts up here suspect a final round around 10:30 p.m. And don’t forget, rounds of news conferences, statements, and remarks by President Obama after that. Earlier, a reader asked me directly, what happens after the House votes? If the Democrats succeed, then the Senate has to take up the reconciliation bill passed by the House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, assured House Democrats on Saturday that he could muster a majority vote on reconciliation." (Kate Phillips @ NY Times)
The first vote goes swimmingly for Dems: "The House vote on its debate rule — an essential precursor to the two votes to come later tonight — has passed with 224 votes in favor and 206 opposed. A landslide, huh? ...So what was all the fuss about?" (Joe Klein @ Time magazine)
Tensions are boiling over on the House floor: "One of the more lively moments on the House floor during the health-care bill debate [comes when] Rep. David Dreier tries to throw cold water on the notion that Harry Reid can be trusted to have 50 votes to get the fixes that the House wants reconciled. Rep. Louise Slaughter was having none of it." [Click link to see video] (Crooks and Liars blog)
Full credit to the Dems: "Well, it seems to be in the bag now. I try to be a sunny the-glass-is-one-sixteenth-full kinda guy, but it's hard to overestimate the magnitude of what the Democrats have accomplished. If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government. More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home." (Mark Steyn @ The National Review)
Three cheers for Pelosi — but the battle is just beginning: "It looks as if health reform has been achieved. [But] there is, as always, a tunnel at the end of the tunnel: We’ll spend years if not decades fixing this thing. But kudos to all involved, with special praise for Nancy Pelosi, who is now a speaker for the ages." (Paul Krugman @ NYT)
Silver linings for GOP: "Passage of the Democrats' government medicine bill is assured. This is a dark day in American history; one of the darkest. But there are many reasons for optimism: 1) The health-care battle is just beginning. Next, the Senate will try to enact the House's "fixes" to the original Senate bill. Some senators say that won't happen; 2) The health-care bill's ... substantive provisions are, for the most part, deferred for four years. This means that we have plenty of time to repeal the legislation; 3) Paul Ryan has emerged as one of the conservative movement's strongest spokesmen; 4) The health-care debate has energized the conservative movement; 5) Barack Obama has used his political capital." (John Hindraker @ Power Line)
Stupak's conversion is a game changer: "The abortion issue isn't going to stop health-care reform. In a late afternoon press conference, Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak and six of his Democratic colleagues announced that they were dropping their objections to the Senate bill, thanks to a new executive order that makes clear taxpayer dollars won't finance abortion services. With [that] the Democrats have the votes they need to pass reform tonight." (Jonathan Cohn @ The New Republic)
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