President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) for her political courage in supporting the Senate Finance Committee health care bill, a measure that he called a critical milestone in the process of passing health care reform.
Obama spoke in the Rose Garden during an appearance scheduled after the Finance Committee voted to approve the bill Tuesday afternoon. Snowe is the lone Republican in the House or the Senate to vote to back any of the Democratic plans now working their way through Congress.
Though Snowe said she supported the measure in part to move the process along and noted her support on final passage was not assured Obama was clearly pleased to have at least one Republican behind one of the five bills that have passed committees in the House and Senate.
After many months of thoughtful deliberation, the fifth and final committee responsible for health care reform has passed a proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support, Obama said. This effort was made possible by the tireless efforts of Chairman Max Baucus and the other members of the Senate Finance Committee, he continued. I want to particularly thank Sen. Olympia Snowe for both the political courage and the seriousness of purpose that she's demonstrated throughout this process.
Despite hailing what he perceives as a victory, Obama cautioned backers against complacency.
Now's not the time to pat ourselves on the back, he said. Now's not the time to offer ourselves congratulations. Now's the time to dig in and work even harder to get this done.
Obama warned that the bill, which does not include a public insurance option that he supports, is not perfect.
We have a lot of difficult work ahead of us, he said, adding that its passage has nevertheless brought us significantly closer to achieving the core objectives I laid out early in September.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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