President Obama will sign landmark health-care legislation into law Tuesday without waiting for the Senate to deal with a package of revisions that was also approved by the House late Sunday, administration officials said.
Officials unveiled the plan to use a signing ceremony to showcase the benefits of the health-care overhaul after a divided House passed the Senate-approved bill and the separate revisions, known as a reconciliation bill, in a marathon Sunday session that culminated more than a year of political discord over Obama's signature domestic initiative. By a 219-212 vote, the House approved the Senate bill, handing Democrats a historic victory in a long-running battle to reform the nation's $2.5 trillion health-care system. The vote for the reconciliation bill was 220-211. No Republican voted for either measure.
[..]The Senate will begin work on the House-passed revisions as soon as Obama signs the broader legislation, said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). The debate will be limited to 20 hours and likely will end early Thursday, Manley said. Then begins a series of votes on amendments, a process with no time limit but that allows for just one minute between votes.
At the moment, Democratic Senate leaders are uncertain how long the voting process will last, although most senators still expect to leave more or less on schedule for a two-week recess scheduled to begin Saturday. Still unclear is whether the GOP will succeed with any of the numerous procedural challenges it is expected to mount against the bill.
Bipartisan discussions with the Senate parliamentarian began late Monday morning, but Manley said Democratic leaders have already vetted the fixes bill for potential hitches and identified no provisions that could be jettisoned and result in derailing the $940 billion package.
White House officials said Obama intends to sign the main bill during an event that will include a diverse group of guests, some of whom the president has used before to promote his health-care plans. He was hoping to do so on the South Lawn of the White House, but a rainy forecast made it more likely that the ceremony would be held indoors at the Interior Department, press secretary Robert Gibbs said.