U.S. President Barack Obama was at the U.S. Capitol Saturday to make a
final, personal appeal to Congressional Democrats for support in what
he calls a "fateful debate" about the future of health care in the
Also Saturday, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives
announced they intend to hold two votes Sunday on health care
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House would first vote on
the bill passed last year by the U.S. Senate. Hoyer said members of
Congress would next vote on a reconciliation bill that resolves
differences between House and Senate versions of the bill.
The Senate would still have to vote on the reconciliation measure.
Members of the Republican Party are maintaining their staunch
opposition to the bill. Speaking in the party's weekly address, House
Republican leader John Boehner said the bill would mean higher taxes
and too much government intervention in healthcare decisions.
Nevertheless, Mr. Obama's administration is pressing hard for public support to persuade Congress to approve the legislation.
Privately, Mr. Obama has been lobbying to gain the votes of House
members who say they are undecided about the sweeping health care
The White House and Democratic Party leaders in the House predict they
will have the votes of at least 216 representatives - a simple majority
of the lower house of Congress - needed to pass the legislation.
Mr. Obama was to have left on a trip to Indonesia and Australia
Thursday, but he postponed it until June, so he can be in Washington
for the vote and subsequent Congressional action.
The proposed legislation would provide health care insurance to more
than 30 million Americans who do not have it, and would ban certain
insurance company practices such as denying benefits for pre-existing
medical conditions or refusing to continue providing coverage for some
individuals. It would also require that most Americans purchase
insurance or face penalties.