*President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign the historic health care bill into law this morning at 11:15 a.m. in the East Room of the White House.
Obama will deliver remarks at the bill-signing ceremony, but is saving a more formal speech on the legislation for a larger celebration at the Interior Dept auditorium at noon.
House and Senate Democrats who backed the bill as well as lesser-known people whose health care struggles have touched Obama are expected to join him today for the festivities.
The House late Sunday voted 219-212 — without a single Republican in favor — to send the 10-year, $938 billion bill to Obama. The measure, which the Senate passed in December, eventually will extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, reduce federal budget deficits and ban such insurance company practices as denying coverage to people with existing medical problems.
A companion measure sought by House Democrats to make a series of changes to the main bill was approved 220-211. It goes to the Senate, where debate could begin as early as Tuesday. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he has the votes to pass it — though only under special budget rules requiring just a simple majority vote.
Obama begins a tour to sell the bill on Thursday in Iowa City, Iowa, where as a presidential candidate he announced his health care plan in May 2007.
- White House photographer Pete Sousa’s collection of Obama’s road to the health care reform bill can be viewed on the WH Flickr site at http://bit.ly/bgUHuE