By Mike Soraghan - 07/14/09 04:21 PM EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stood in front of a banner reading "Quality affordable health care for the middle class" and declared, "This bill is a starting point on a path to success."
It was delayed several days because of objections from centrist Blue Dog Democrats. Late last week, 40 Blue Dogs signed a letter saying that the bill didn't do enough to eliminate inefficiencies in the healthcare system.
The government-run healthcare plan, or "public option," is one of the most controversial aspects of the legislation. Republicans are united against it, and many centrist Democrats have qualms about it.
The surtax on the wealthy will also be controversial, though it is in line with what President Obama has said in the past than Senate proposals to tax health benefits. The surtax would start at 1 percent on those making more than $350,000, up to 5.4 percent on incomes of more than $1 million. The tax is expected to raise $500 billion during the next 10 years. Democrats are hoping for nearly that much in savings from Medicaid and Medicare.
The Congressional Budget Office has not released its analysis of how much the bill will cost.