- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 8, 2009

President Obama on Sunday congratulated the House for its “historic” vote for health care reform and urged the Senate to follow suit.

“For years we were told that this couldn’t be done … but last night the House proved differently,” Mr. Obama said during an early afternoon news briefing at the White House Rose Garden.

The president, acknowledging that many moderate and conservative Democrats had been wary of supporting legislation that isn’t universally popular in their home districts, thanked the bill’s supporters for their “courageous” vote.

Related TWT article: House OKs health reform bill

“Given the heated and often misleading rhetoric surrounding this legislation, I know that this was a courageous vote for many members of Congress,” he said. “I am grateful to them and for the rest of their colleagues for taking us this far.”

The House late Saturday voted 220-215 to pass legislation that would dramatically reshape the country’s health care system. The bill drew the votes of 219 Democrats and Rep. Joseph Cao, a first-term Republican who holds an overwhelmingly Democratic seat in New Orleans. Opposed were 176 Republicans and 39 Democrats.

The measure now moves to the Senate to begin a long-delayed debate on the issue that has come to overshadow all others in Congress.

“Now it falls on the United States Senate to take the baton and bring this effort to the finish line,” Mr. Obama said.

The president added that he is “absolutely confident” the Senate will pass the measure.

“I am equally convinced that on the day that we gather here at the White House and I sign comprehensive health insurance reform legislation into law they’ll be able to join their House colleagues and say this was their finest moment in public service,” he said.

Mr. Obama also praised Iraq’s parliament for this weekend approving a new law that paves the way for national elections in early 2010.

“This is am important milestone as the Iraqi people continue to take responsibility for their future,” he said.

The president made no mention of the Fort Hood shooting during the five-minute briefing and took no questions.

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