HEALTH REFORM -- March 23, 2010 at 12:19 PM EDT
President Obama Signs Health Reform Into Law
President Obama on Tuesday signed health care reform into law, in front of a cheering crowd of lawmakers and Americans who will be affected by the 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," the president said.
"It'll take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly. We need to get this right," the president added. "But a host of desperately needed reforms will take effect right away -- this year."
The crowd of legislators -- all Democrats -- cheered the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. No Republicans voted for the bill, and none appeared to be present at the signing ceremony.
The president acknowledged the rough road legislators had taken during the year-long debate over reform. In an unscripted moment, when he said that the bill was "a testament to the persistence of the men and women of the United States Congress ... who've taken their lumps during this debate," one legislator called out "Yes we did!"
The president outlined the reforms that would go into effect this year -- such as tax breaks for small businesses to provide insurance, and some insurance reforms -- and those that would phase in over the next few years.
"In a few minutes ... all of the overheated rhetoric of reform will finally confront the reality of reform," he said.
The Senate is expected to begin considering a package of revisions to the bill later today. Known as the reconciliation bill, the changes were agreed upon in the House in a bid to push the Senate measure to the president's desk.
Republicans wasted no time responding to the new law -- thirteen Republican state Attorneys General filed a lawsuit immediately after the bill's signing challenging its constitutionality.