23 Mar 2010

Landmark victory for Obama as healthcare bill passes

5:59 am on 23 March 2010

The United States House of Representatives has narrowly passed the controversial healthcare reform bill that is the centrepiece of President Barack Obama's domestic agenda.

The bill, which gives health insurance to 95% of Americans - 32 million more than at present - was passed by 219 votes to 212 after hours of stormy debate, giving Mr Obama a landmark victory and achieving a goal that has eluded Democrats since former President Bill Clinton's failed attempt in 1994.

President Obama says it's a victory for the American people, and proves that his government still works for the people.

Democrats cheered in celebration as the vote count passed 216- the required majority - and chanted: "Yes we can." Every Republican opposed the bill, and 34 Democrats joined them in voting against it.

Already passed by the Senate, the legislation was to be signed into law by Mr Obama later on Sunday.

Curb on abortion funding reaffirmed

Its chances of being passed got a big boost earlier on Sunday (Washington time) when a last-minute deal with the White House eased the concerns of one undecided senator over abortion funding.

In accordance with the deal, Mr Obama will issue an executive order reaffirming long-standing curbs on the use of federal funds for abortion.

The legislation imposes new taxes on the wealthy and bars insurance practices such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.