On Saturday evening the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a 220 to 215 vote the Affordable Health Care for America Act. One Republican voted in favor of the measure, while 39 Democrats sided with the rest of the GOP in opposition. During brief remarks from the Rose Garden Sunday, President Barack Obama said the historic House vote brings the country closer than it's ever been to a health care overhaul.
Obama said the Senate needs to take the baton and bring this effort to the finish line on behalf of the American people and expressed absolute confidence that they will. However there are some obstacles that remain in the way of health care reform.
The bill narrowly passed in the House despite an amendment that would sharply restrict the availability of coverage for abortions, which many insurance plans now offer. Many Democrats voted for the bill to keep the process moving forward, but more than 40 signatures of House Democrats have been collected by Representative Diana DeGette, D-Colo., promising to vote against any final bill that includes the amendment.
Aside from these potential problems in a final conference between the two chambers, there remain other issues that may cause problems getting a bill out of the Senate.
The abortion issue has not been discussed much in the Senate but according to Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leady Harry Reid, D-Nev., that may change as the debate in the House highlighted some issues that the Senate will have to face.
Also the Senate's version does have a public option insurance plan that allows states to opt out, but Senator Joe Liberman, I-Conn., on Sunday stated that he won't support any bill that has a public option. Liberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, is considered the 60th vote needed to stave off a filibuster.
Reid hopes to bring a bill to the floor before Thanksgiving, but even then there is a long road ahead before health care reform happens.