President Barack Obama appeared at the White House Saturday to trumpet a Senate deal that appears to have cleared the way for the chamber to pass health care reform legislation by Christmas.
With todays developments, it now appears the American people will have the vote that they deserve on genuine reform that offers security to those who have health insurance and affordable options to those who do not, Obama said during an appearance scheduled late Saturday morning.
I want to thank [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] and every Senator whos been working around the clock to make this happen, he said.
Obama did not mention Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) by name, who until this weekend had refused to support the legislation over objections to its language on abortion funding and other provisions. Nelson announced Saturday that he had reached a deal with Reid on the legislation.
Today is a major step forward for the American people, Obama declared. He repeated an earlier statement, saying, these are not small changes, they are big changes, and he added that the bill achieves fundamental reform. The comments are apparently designed to reach out to liberals concerned that the bill no longer includes a public insurance option or a Medicare buy-in plan.
To appeal to moderates, Obama touted the latest cost estimate of the legislation, which he said showed the bill will reduce the deficit by $132 billion in the first decade. He called it the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade.
Obama said the legislation had been made stronger by several amendments, including proposals to assess penalties for insurance companies that artificially jack up rates and to immediately prevent insurers from denying coverage to children
Obama also spoke briefly about his role at the global climate change summit in Copenhagen. He acknowledged that the deal reached there is not enough, but asserted that it provides a template for future action.
The agreement lays the foundation for international action in the years to come, the president said. Countries are going to have to build on the momentum we established in Copenhagen.
Obama called on Congress to pass legislation with the incentives necessary to spark this clean energy revolution.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.