President Obama took several swipes today at Republican critics of the health care law signed this week, as the Senate was passing a reconciliation bill by a 56-43 vote to make important "fix-its" to the new law.
Speaking at the University of Iowa, the president addressed those Republicans who have said they will run on a pledge to repeal the health care law in November's mid-term elections. "My attitude is: Go for it," Obama said.
"Leaders of the Republican party, they called the passage of this bill 'Armageddon.' Armageddon. 'End of freedom as we know it.' So after I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling or some cracks opening up in the earth. It turned out it was a nice day," the president joked.
Obama spoke about how the changes in the health system will affect insurance companies.
"They've got to start playing by a new set of rules that treats everybody honestly and treats everybody fairly," he said. "The days of the insurance industry running roughshod over the American people are over."
It was at a speech in Iowa City in 2007 that then-Sen. Obama first spoke about his vision for health-care overhaul.
"Three years ago, we made a promise. That promise has been kept," the president told the crowd today.
Even though the Senate's work on health care is over, the bill still has to cross one more hurdle.
The provisions that were killed involved Federal Pell Grants for low-income students. The House now has to pass the same reconciliation bill, and a vote is expected by tonight.
"The parliamentarian struck two minor provisions tonight from the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, but this bill's passage in the Senate is still a big win for the American people," Manley said late Wednesday night. "These changes do not impact the reforms to the student loan programs and the important investments in education. We are confident the House will quickly pass the bill with these minor changes."
Democrats wanted to avoid sending the bill back to the House of Representatives but the party's leadership and the White House expressed confidence today that the amended bill will pass without any difficulties.
"I think you've seen attempts to do anything possible to try to delay health care reform," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. "We're quite confident this process will soon pass, and the new bill will be approved quickly by House."
The debate over Republican amendments raged through the night as senators voted from 5:30 p.m. Wednesday until about 2:45 a.m. Republicans offered 41 amendments ranging from prohibiting sex offenders from getting drugs like Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction under the new system to another taking out special deals for individual states, including Louisiana and Connecticut.
"There's no attempt to improve the bill," a frustrated Reid said. "There's an attempt to destroy this bill."
Republicans argued their amendments are legitimate.
"The majority leader may not think we're serious about changing the bill, but we'd like to change the bill, and with a little help from our friends on the other side, we could improve the bill significantly," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.