It is nights like this that make working in politics worthwhile.
Moments ago the the House of Representatives passed healthcare reform. Soon President Obama will sign this bill, soon after that the Senate will pass and President Obama will sign various fixes to improve the bill.
Tonight the greatest social achievement of our time will become law.
It's worth letting that sink in for a bit.
The goal of comprehensive healthcare reform which has eluded every President since Teddy Roosevelt is finally here.
32 million of our brothers and sisters who would not have have healthcare coverage will have it beacause of this bill.
150,000 people who would have died will live because of this bill.
Our deficit will be reduced by $138 billion over the next decade beacause of this bill.
I could go on and on, but I'll spare you beacause y'all are a smart and informed group who have probably heard the numbers before, and if not, I'm sure you will in the coming days.
This is the biggest step our country has ever taken towards ensuring that healthcare is a human right for all men, women and children in this country.
This is historic.
So it's worth taking some time to remember and thank those who made this day possible.
To all those who slave away on the staff of or volunteering for good Democrats. Together we elected these majorities and we did it beacause of this. Thousands gave up their normal lives for the insane pace of campaigns because they believed we could do better as a nation. Thousands more put in their time or money without pay to take their country back, even when it those who thought we could do better were smeared as unpatriotic. Together those efforts made this day possible.
To John Dingell Sr and Jr. Thank you for your tireless, decades long fight to make this day possible.
To America's labor movement. Thank you for being tireless advocates of a decent, dignified life for ALL Americans and for putting everything into keeping the hope alive.
To Barack Obama, who ignored the advice of some of his advisers to go small and invested a tremendous amount of political capital and put his reputation on the line over and over again to get us to this moment. Thank you for getting us here.
To the amazing people powered movement of Organizing for America, who made at least 400,000 calls to Congress in the last week and in just a little over a year turned into the one of the powerful grassroots political groups in America.
To ALL healthcare advocates who worked so hard and fought so passionately to get us to today. A special shout out to the amazing Healthcare for America Now!coalition who's tremendous organizing made this possible.
And most of all, a huge, huge thank you to the late Senator Edward Moore Kennedy. For decades Teddy championed this cause tirelessly. It is my biggest regret that he was not able to be with us today. Without his work we could not have made it here. And so I think it is appropriate to reprint the letter he wrote to be given to President Obama when he died.
Dear Mr. President,
I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.
On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.
You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.
When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.
There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat - that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.
And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.
In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.
So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.
At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.
And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.
With deep respect and abiding affection,
YES. WE. DID.