President Barack Obama on Tuesday, March 23 signed a historic $938 billion health care overhaul bill, overseeing the largest shift in American domestic policy since the 1960s, according to The Associated Press.
The move, which guarantees coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans, capped a yearlong debate that will likely define the November elections.
“With all the punditry, all the lobbying, all the game-playing that passes for governing here in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing, to wonder if there are limits to what we as a people can still achieve,” Obama said, his remarks interrupted by applause after nearly every sentence. “We are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust. We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we got here.”
The president’s victory lap proceeded even as Congress labored to complete the overhaul with a companion measure making changes to the main bill that were a condition of House Democrats’ approval. Debate on that bill, also passed Sunday by the House, could begin Tuesday in the Senate.
Not everyone was cheering the new law.
Attorneys general from 13 states filed suit to stop the overhaul just minutes after the bill signing, contending the law is unconstitutional. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum took the lead in the lawsuit, joined by colleagues from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Louisiana, Idaho, Washington and Colorado. Other GOP attorneys general may join the lawsuit later or sue separately.
In Washington, Republicans remained firm in their opposition to the giant remake of the nation’s health system, declaring it much too costly and unlikely to produce the results that Obama claims. The Republicans pledged to see Democrats punished in this fall’s elections for approving the legislation over deep public skepticism.
Pictured above is President Barack Obama.