Sunday, November 8
President Barack Obama went to the White House Rose Garden Sunday afternoon to thank the House of Representatives for adopting a health care reform measure by a narrow vote with Fifth District congressman Tom Perriello casting one the key votes in favor of the bill.
Perriello had said for weeks that he was unsure how he would ultimately vote.
The House adopted the measure on a 220-215 vote with only one Republican joining the Democrats who voted in favor.
The trillion-dollar package is aimed at guaranteeing health care to virtually every American while overhauling private insurance practices.
The bill now goes on to the Senate.
Perriello was under intense pressure from the Obama Administration to vote yes. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CBS 19 she had placed at least one call to the Charlottesville Democrat. And on Saturday the President himself went to Capitol Hill to urge wavering Democrats to support the plan.
Obama said, "Given the heated and often misleading rhetoric surrounding this legislation, I know that this was a courageous vote for many members of Congress, and I'm grateful to them and for the rest of their colleagues for taking us this far. But more importantly, so are the millions of Americans whose lives will change when we achieve insurance reform . . . Their lives are what's at stake in this debate, and moments like this are why they sent us here -- to finally meet the challenges that Washington has put off for decades; to make their lives better and this nation stronger; to move America forward."
Not only was Perriello's vote critical to passage of the measure, it also will certainly be a central issue in his upcoming campaign for re-election. Perriello barely defeated Republican Virgil Goode to win his first term in Washington. Already a half-dozen Republicans have lined up for the chance to take on a Democrat the pundits consider among the most vulnerable in the nation.
Within minutes of the vote in the House, conservative bloggers were writing that Perriello had cast the vote that would kill his political career.
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