Health care vote greeted as giant first step


WASHINGTON-Fighters for health care reform, both inside and outside Congress, hailed passage by the House of Representatives late Sunday night of a reform bill that extends health insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured people, outlaws denial of coverage for preexisting conditions, and limits insurance company premium increases.

The vote was 219 to 212 with not a single Republican voting yes. The 178 Republicans were joined by 34 "Blue Dog" Democrats in voting no. 

Just before the roll call vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House was making history, "joining those who created Social Security and Medicare..." With passage of this bill, she added, "being a woman is no longer a 'pre-existing condition.'"

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the third ranking leader of the House called the bill "the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century."

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka greeted the bill's passage as a "momentous step toward comprehensive coverage." The legislation, he added, "is not a baby step or half measure, it is a solid step forward to set our country on a path to health care that actually works for working families."

The lawmakers were voting to approve the bill approved last Christmas Eve by the Senate. Moments after approving the bill, the House approved a "Reconciliation bill," a package of measures that dramatically improves the Senate version. A Senate vote on the Reconciliation package is expected Wednesday under rules that allow passage by a simple majority.

Tuesday, President Obama is scheduled to sign the bill  into law and then fly to Iowa to muster popular support even as the Republican right plans to campaign in the midterm elections on a promise to repeal the new laws. The GOP lawmakers unleashed a torrent of venomous lies to block it.

Teabaggers were outside the Capitol Building denouncing the bill as "Socialism" and "Communism."  Some goons accosted members of the Congressional Black Caucus, hurling the "n" word at them. One Black member was spat on by these Klan elements.

The AFL-CIO pointed out that the health care bill "survived a $100 million lie-and-distortion campaign by Big Insurance to kill it, the same kind of scare tactics these groups have aimed at health care proposals for six decades."

The labor movement made four million phone calls and one million emails in support of the bill. Working America, an AFL-CIO affiliated group went door to door talking with 210,000 people and collected 30,000 petition signatures for the bill.

In Aliquippa, Pa., members of the United Steelworkers (USW) staged a sit-in in the office of Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire to protest his decision to vote no. Rick Galiano, president of USW Local 9305 said, "We busted our humps working for Jason Altmire and many other politicians who time and again promise they will work for us....We are tired of the broken promises."

Health Care for America NOW media spokesperson Jacki Schechner was exultant. "This is a really tremendous first step," she told the World in a phone interview. "We still need to get the Reconciliation package through the Senate and the President needs to sign it into law.  But we've managed to accomplish something that has eluded us for decades which is giving the American people the security of good health care they can afford, so people will not go bankrupt when they get sick or lose their health coverage when they need it the most."

Schechner added, "We launched this drive over a year ago and the heart and soul of the campaign was in the field," she said. "We have a tremendous grassroots network that put everything they had into this and it really worked."

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  • Great article! This is a great first step. Even racist Teabaggers can't ruin this moment for the people. Still, the bill is only our first step towards fully socialized health care. Let's stay united and keep struggling towards the ultimate goal.

    Posted by Vinnie Amoriello, 03/23/2010 4:44pm (5 years ago)

  • With labor and people's movements at the center of this health care struggle,with the communists,we have a blue print of how legislative progress can be won.
    The alliances of people's movements and their unity are necessary and need to continue and grow in all areas of human concern.

    The number one question for the working-class is and has been,as put by our late,great W.E.B. Du Bois:

    "1. Public ownership of natural resources and of all capital."

    This question is related to all questions but especially to Nuclear Non-Proliferation.
    Let's start a tradition,in this Obama era,to push positive legislation to help the coming generations have the concrete substance to fight with. Let us push for legislation to have the fighting uniting people's movements own and control nuclear substances,along with all natural resources. Let's fight to equip the people with health care protection while we fight for this"Public ownership of natural resources and of all capital"-it was the people's sacrifice,blood and labor which produced all capital and wealth in the first place.
    Quite natural and just that all capital would return to its origin.
    For now,we will consolidate this health care victory with the consolidation of reconciliation,learning more about this constructive process for meeting people's needs.
    Later,we will use the knowledge gleaned to help with perhaps bigger,but inter-related struggles.
    Excellent article,brother Tim Wheeler,thank you for showing the all people's side of this victory.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 03/23/2010 12:46pm (5 years ago)

  • Great news story, great peoples victory over the ultra right enemies of of social progress and health care reform. I'm glad I lived long enough to see the first African American president and the passage of this bill.

    Posted by Frank Chapman, 03/23/2010 7:16am (5 years ago)

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