ABC News' John R. Parkinson reports: Speaker Nancy Pelosi just appeared on the House floor, indicating Democrats have the votes to pass health care reform tonight.
“Today the call will be answered, today we will pass the Affordable Health Care for America Act,” Speaker Pelosi said. “This legislation is founded on key principles for a healthier America. Innovation, competition and prevention. it improves quality, lowers cost, expands coverage to 36 million more people and retains choices.”
A final vote on the health care bill is expected after 930pm tonight.
Pelosi noted the lifetimes of work that Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) devoted to the cause of health care reform.
“A poignant moment occurred when Chairman Dingell took over the beginning of the debate for health care,” Pelosi said. “When he was a young man as a member of congress, he gaveled Medicare into law. As one of our colleagues said, he perceived health care for all Americans. His father introduced the bill over and over when he was in congress and as his successor, he continued that great legacy. Today, he will see a lifelong dream come true as we begin the process of making this a reality.”
The speaker said of Sen. Kennedy: “Is it impossible to talk about health care reform in America without talking about Senator Edward Kennedy. His leadership and his contribution to this debate is boundless. Health insurance reform was the cause of his life. He called it the great unfinished business of our society. On this issue, he said, what is at stake is the character of our country,” Pelosi said.
She also praised President Barack Obama, who came up to Capitol Hill this morning for a closed-door meeting with House Democrats, for his efforts in bringing a bill to pass.
“President Obama’s leadership gives our nation hope. Today with this legislation, we will give them help,” Pelosi said. “President Obama has said, we will measure our success by the progress made in America’s working families. Today with the passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, we will make history and we will also make progress for America’s working families.”