House Passes Historic Health Care Overhaul

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President Obama's massive health care overhaul plan passed the House, Sunday, in a dramatic pull of last-minutes votes that rallied liberals and angered GOP opponents and pro-life groups.

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the plan as one that honor's American tradition, House Republican leader John Boehner said the bill "disgraces" and fails the country.

CBN News Washington Correspondent John Jessup and senior vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life Action, William Saunders, appeared on Monday's CBN Newschannel's Morning program discuss the next step for the historic bill and the battle over abortion.

Click play to watch the interview.

The legislation squeezed through by a 219-212 vote, primarily because of a switch by pro-life Democrats who'd been holding out over fears the bill would allow federally funded abortions.

In a last minute deal, Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and his constituents bowed to intense pressure from the White House and party leaders after agreeing to an executive order on abortion to be signed by Obama.

In a press conference before the vote, Stupak assured pro-lifers the agreement will "protect the sanctity of life."

"Make no doubt about it. There will be no public funds for abortion," he said.

Along with signing the primary health care bill, Obama will issue an order to "reaffirm [the legislation's] consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement.

"While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation's restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented," he added.

That promise, however, is not enough for pro-life groups who feel they've been betrayed by lawmakers they once supported.

"The very idea is a slap in the face to the pro-life movement and should be offensive to all pro-life members of Congress," said Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List. "An executive order can be rescinded at any time at the president's whim. The courts could and have a history of trumping executive orders."

The bill is expected to extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, ban providers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and cut deficits by $138 billion over a decade.

Most Americans will be required to purchase insurance or face penalty. There would also be a large expansion of Medicaid, with required coverage for incomes up to 133 percent of the national poverty level.

To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000.

Sunday's vote doesn't make health care reform final just yet. A companion package of changes to the bill still must be approved by the Senate, although Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid says he has enough votes to clear them.

Obama is expected to sign the health care bill into law as early as Tuesday.

Special Section:

Health Care Reform

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