The United States has got its health reform. President Barack Obama’s controversial healthcare bill – the cornerstone of his domestic agenda -needed 216 votes in the House of Representatives to pass.
Not one opposition Republican supported the measure and 34 of Obama’s Democrats also voted against. But 219 Democrats made sure the legislation will be on the president’s desk for him to sign it into law this week.
The legislation has proven to be among the most divisive issues in Congress in decades. Opponents say it is unaffordable and amounts to the nationalisation of the healthcare industry.
To seal the deal, Obama had to reassure the pro-life lobby on Sunday that there would be no federal funding for abortions.
Now after forcing the bill through Congress, the Obama administration will have to sell the reform to an American public that is still sceptical. If it fails, many Democrat congressmen and women who backed healthcare reform could pay with their jobs in mid-term elections later this year.
That in turn could leave Obama outnumbered in Congress for the second half of his term in office, and seriously damage the health of his chances of re-election.