Obama hails healthcare reform agreement

President Barack Obama praised the agreement reached Saturday on the healthcare reform bill by Senate Democratic leaders and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

Tieless and in a blazer, Obama said in short remarks to the White House press pool that it “appears the American people will have the vote they deserve” on the legislation. Nelson’s promised backing was necessary in order to reach 60 votes on the bill, enough to beat back a Republican-led filibuster.

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“There is much work to do with little time to do it,” Obama said. Senators are planning the first cloture vote on the healthcare reform package at 1 a.m. this coming Monday, which should set up a final vote on the bill by Christmas Eve. Nelson’s announcement that he intends to vote for cloture and the bill should seal its passage.

“Today is a major step forward,” the president said. “After a nearly-century long struggle, we are about to make healthcare insurance for all Americans a reality.”

Obama said the reforms contained the bill will save money and lives as well as adding up to “the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade.”