Pelosi Signs Final Health Bill, Sends To President Obama
On her 70th birthday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the health care reform reconciliation bill and sent it to President Obama for his signature.
Roll Call: "Can you imagine a more important birthday privilege than to be signing health care for all Americans?' she asked. 'This is our gift to the American people.'" Pelosi was also presented with a cake by her staff for her birthday (Dennis, 3/26).
Reuters: Obama was expected to sign the companion bill early next week, the White House said. Congress is beginning a two-week spring break and Democrats plan an all-out effort to try to sell the package to a skeptical public. Republicans remained united in their opposition to the sweeping $940 billion overhaul and have vowed a campaign to repeal it. Obama plans to travel to Maine on April 1 to speak about healthcare. (Smith and Zengerie, 3/26).
The New York Times reports that Pelosi called the bill "a matter of trust" between the chambers of Congress. "Ms. Pelosi also noted a projection by the Congressional Budget Office that the health care legislation will reduce future federal deficits. 'If there were one reason to do the bill - fiscal grounds - this bill fits the bill,' Ms. Pelosi said" (Herszenhorn, 3/26).
CNN reports in the meantime that two polls taken after the House vote Sunday on the health reform law have found increased support for the measure. "Two of the surveys, by CBS News and Quinnipiac University, asked virtually the same question about health care both before and after Sunday's vote, and in both polls support for the legislation rose by four to five percentage points. USA Today/Gallup, the third poll conducted after the vote, did not ask the same question as they did before action by the House, but their results are generally consistent with the indication in the other polls that support for the health care bill has gone up. CBS indicated 42 percent approving of the bill; Quinnipiac indicated 40 percent approval. Forty-six percent of those questioned in the CBS poll disapproved of the bill, with 49 percent of those questioned by Quinnipiac disapproving of the legislation" (Steinhauser, 3/25).
Roll Call in a separate story: "Senate Republicans, looking to transform a legislative defeat in Washington, D.C., into a political victory at home, were leaving Capitol Hill on Friday armed with a strategy memorandum outlining plans for health care and the economy moving forward. The memo, prepared by Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Vice Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), signaled that Senate Republicans plan to spend the upcoming two-week spring recess communicating exactly what they mean by their vow to 'repeal and replace' the new health care reform laws. The memo has six points Republicans want to repeal and replace in the health reform law (Drucker, 3/26).
Finally, Politico takes a step back, giving to give some perspective on the debate: "History suggests there is a better chance the passions over the country's new health care regime will cool with an alacrity that seems unthinkable amid the clenched fists and snarling insults of the recent debate. This has been a familiar pattern since New Deal days: Government programs from Social Security to Medicare that were launched amid incendiary arguments within a short time became sacrosanct--protected by a bipartisan consensus that was nowhere to be found at passage. In fact, historians of social programs see no correlation between the intensity of controversy at the birth of a program and its ultimate popularity" (Barbash, 3/26).