WASHINGTON BUREAU — President Obama today signed H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act bill, saying it will lead to “reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for.”
Meanwhile, the Senate parliamentarian has ruled informally that the “Cadillac health plan excise tax” provision in a second major health bill, the Reconciliation Act of 2010, complies with the rules governing budget reconciliation bills. The House passed the Reconciliation Act, H.R. 4872, Sunday, but the Senate still must pass it before Obama can sign it into law.
Obama, who has often talked about the insurance struggles his own mother faced as she was dying of cancer, noted that some of the provisions in PPACA, particularly provisions affecting insurers, will take effect this year.
“Today, after almost a century of trying — today, after over a year of debate — today, after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America,” Obama said.
The bill enshrines “the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care,” Obama said.
Republicans reacted angrily to the signing.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio called the event something that “looked and sounded like a liberal Democratic pep rally” for “a massive government takeover of health care.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told an Arizona radio station that Democrats should not expect any cooperation from Republicans in the Senate for the rest of the year, according to The Hill, a Washington newspaper.
The Democrats are trying to use the budget reconciliation rules, rather than the ordinary Senate rules, to pass H.R. 4872 because of concerns about their ability to attract any Republican votes for the bill in the Senate.
Democrats and independents now hold 59 seats in the Senate, and Republicans hold 41 seats. The Democrats need 60 votes to get an ordinary bill to the floor in the Senate, but just 51 votes to pass a budget reconciliation bill.
Several Democratic officials and lobbyists are predicting that Democrats can count on getting 52 votes for H.R. 4872. They are expecting the final vote to occur before the Senate leaves Friday for the 2-week Easter recess.