By Elise Viebeck - 07/31/13 06:41 PM EDT
President Obama delivered an upbeat message about ObamaCare to congressional Democrats on Wednesday, telling concerned members that the healthcare law and its supporters are on the "right side of history."
Obama met with House and Senate Democrats just days before lawmakers leave Washington for their August recess and amid record public support for ObamaCare's repeal.
A considerable number of House Democrats sided with Republicans this month and voted to delay the reform's individual mandate in direct opposition to the White House.
During his visit to Capitol Hill, Obama sought to boost Democrats' spirits as they prepare to meet with constituents over the next six weeks.
Healthcare reform will be a major topic at town hall meetings and other events as communities prepare for implementation.
Obama said Democrats "are on the right side of these issues and the right side of history in terms of providing healthcare to Americans," said Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), who described the talk as a pre-recess "send-off."
Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who was in the same meeting, said Obama expressed confidence that the law's popularity will rise once it's implemented.
"People are going to see that it's working, [that] the sky didn't fall, and then the arguments that persistently advocated against it, they're going to start to fade away because nothing is going to be more powerful than it actually working and people seeing that they can get coverage and get more security," Welch said, describing Obama's message.
Republicans are planning to use constituent events over the recess to further undercut the healthcare law.
Congress is also leaving Washington amid serious talk by conservatives about shutting down the government in an attempt to defund ObamaCare.
Lawmakers are already on the hook to pass a government funding bill by Sept. 30 or face a shutdown on Oct. 1.
The fight could easily become a battle over ObamaCare's funding. The law's insurance exchanges are scheduled to open for enrollment in October, putting pressure on conservatives trying to thwart the rollout.
Asked if the White House is concerned about healthcare criticism over the recess, spokesman Jay Carney noted that the law contains benefits for "millions and millions of Americans."
"As implementation proceeds and it is proceeding, more and more Americans will experience the benefits that come with implementation. So we're absolutely interested in making sure members of Congress as well as the American people are informed as the process on enrollment begins and implementation continues," Carney said.
—Mike Lillis contributed.