After more than a year of negotiations, debate and political drama, President Obama today signed the historic health care bill that could reshape care for millions of Americans while setting up a divisive battle with Republicans that's expected to spill into the November elections and beyond.
"After a century of striving, after a year of debate, after a historic vote, health care reform is no longer an unmet promise," Obama said at an event after the signing ceremony at the Department of Interior. "It is the law of the land."
The president took a direct stab at critics of health care overhaul, saying they are "still making a lot of noise" about what the new law means.
"I heard one of the Republican leaders say this was going to be Armageddon. Well, two months from now, six months from now, you can check it out. We'll look around and we'll see," Obama said to applause.
The president signed the health care bill into law at the White House this morning. He was joined by Americans whose stories have touched the president, and Democrats who voted for the health care bill.
"Today, after almost a century of trying, today, after over a year of debate, today, after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America," Obama said to a standing ovation.
"It's easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what's possible in this country. But today, we are affirming that essential truth, a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself: That we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust," the president added. "We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities."
The attendees chanted "Fired up, ready to go" -- Obama's campaign slogan -- as the president and Vice President Joe Biden arrived at the East Room.
"Ladies and gentleman, to state the obvious, this is a historic day," Biden said to a cheering crowd before the president took the podium.
As Biden finished his remarks and shook Obama's hand, he was heard on the microphone whispering, "This is a big f-ing deal."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted soon afterward, "And yes Mr. Vice President, you're right..."
The president said he was signing the bill on behalf of his mother and those Americans, who like her, had to fight with health insurance companies. Obama also hailed lawmakers for making the tough decision to support the health care bill, and taking "their lumps during this difficult debate," in response to which Congressman Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., shouted, "Yes, we did."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is credited with bringing together enough Democrats to overcome the final hurdle of passing the bill in the House, received special recognition. As Obama recognized Pelosi as "one of the best speakers the House of Representatives have ever had," the crowd unanimously chanted, "Nancy, Nancy, Nancy."
Vicki Reggie Kennedy, wife of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, was also present at the event. In an interview with ABC News' Jonathan Karl, Kennedy said her husband would've been "exhilarated" and "thrilled" by the passage of the bill. Sen. Kennedy, who was behind many landmark health bills, made health care reform the mission of his long Senate career.