- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

President Obama held the final bill signing of his presidency Tuesday, using the rare bipartisan event as an opportunity to plead with lawmakers to save Obamacare after Donald Trump becomes president in January.

Signing into law the 21st Century Cures Act, Mr. Obama praised the Republican and Democratic lawmakers who attended the ceremony at the White House for their “outstanding work.”

“I’m hopeful that in the years ahead, Congress keeps working in a bipartisan fashion to move us forward rather than backward in support of the health of our people,” Mr. Obama said. “These efforts build on the work that we’ve done to strengthen our healthcare system over the last eight years.”

Republican leaders in Congress are planning to repeal Obamacare, and Mr. Trump supports the effort, while saying he’s open to keeping some parts of the law.

The measure signed into law by Mr. Obama Tuesday provides $6.3 billion over the next seven years for treatment of the opioid epidemic, and funds research into brain disorders and cancer, the latter effort part of Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s “cancer moonshot” program. His son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.

It was the 60th bill-signing ceremony of Mr. Obama’s presidency, far fewer than two-term presidents George W. Bush (95) and Bill Clinton (91). The president said the bipartisan agreement on the measure “indicates the power of this issue and how deeply it touches every family across America.”

Getting nostalgic at the final such event of his two terms, Mr. Obama also praised Mr. Biden as “the finest vice president in history.”

“Go ahead and embarrass Joe, go ahead,” Mr. Obama coaxed the audience, which responded with cheers and a standing ovation.

Mr. Biden said the law “is going to help millions of people.”

“I hope this bodes well for what will come next year, that we’re back working together,” he said of both parties.

Mr. Obama called it “a bittersweet day,” noting that his mother also died of cancer at age 52 in 1995.

“She was two-and-a-half years younger than I am today when she passed away,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s not always easy to remember, but being able to honor those we’ve lost in this way, and to know that we may be able to prevent other families from feeling that same loss, that makes it a good day.”

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