Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon to urge a vote to override the President's veto of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act. The House voted overwhelmingly, 383 to 41, to override the President's veto. Below are the Speaker's remarks:
“People across America sought to pass this bill before the Fourth of July break. It was celebrated by seniors who were concerned with disabilities, were concerned about the impact of this modest health reform of Medicare. After the break, the Senate took up the bill once again; it failed with 59 votes the first time.
“We witnessed last week a real profile in courage when Senator Ted Kennedy returned to the well of the Senate to cast his vote in favor of health care for seniors. The whole country was jubilant and applauded when Senator Kennedy came to the floor. He is a fighter for America's seniors, a fighter for people with disabilities, a fighter for our children, a fighter for working families in America, and he left his own physical challenge behind to come to the floor of the Senate, all the way from Massachusetts, to be the 60th vote. It was such a historic moment, and then nine Republican senators changed their votes on the strength of Senator Kennedy's vote. It was 59 until he voted. He became the 60th vote, and then it became 69. And it was pretty exciting. People cheered and everyone was tear-filled and happy that this happened. Affordable, reliable health care for America's seniors and those with disabilities passed.
“And then the President said that he would veto the bill; and he vetoed it today. So here we are again today to come back to have an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the Congress of the United States, in the House of Representatives, to say to the American people that we understand the challenges they face and we will override the President's veto and strengthen Medicare for America's seniors.
'Seniors' organizations and disabilities groups support this legislation. Just about every health-care-providing group in our country supports this legislation, except one, and that is some in the health insurance industry. I guess the president is voting with them and not with America's seniors and those with disabilities when he vetoed the bill.
“But I am very proud of Mr. Rangel, Mr. Dingell, Mr. Pallone, Mr. Stark - I thank them all for their leadership. You have given us an opportunity to vote for the American people. Not only as their representatives, but on their behalf. And we're all grateful to you for that. I urge a vote to override this veto.'