With his signature piece of legislation, President Obama pulled off what many thought was impossible. Health care reform, which he called "the right thing to do," has been at the core of his presidency, and today he made the bill official. Looking on as history was made was 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, the Seattle fifth-grader whose mother died for lack of health insurance.
According to CNN:
President Obama on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping health care reform bill, the nation's most substantial social legislation in four decades, achieving a top priority of his administration.
The jubilant signing ceremony capped a political victory for Obama that supporters hope could guarantee his place in history with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson as one of the most successful social reforming presidents.
The president expressed confidence that the Senate will move swiftly to improve the health care reform law with fixes passed by the House of Representatives. Some health care reforms will take some time to phase in, he said, but others will "take effect right away."
The crowd stood to cheer when Obama and Vice President Joe Biden entered the packed East Room of the White House, then chanted Obama's campaign slogan of "Fired up! Ready to go!" as Obama and Biden applauded and smiled.
Among those on hand for the signing ceremony was Vicki Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who championed health care reform for decades before his death last year.
Also present were several people who wrote Obama in the past year about their personal woes over losing or being unable to get health insurance. Obama had told their stories when campaigning for the health care bill in recent months.
He also noted some private citizens attending Tuesday's ceremony, including 11-year-old Marcelas Owens of Washington state and Ryan Smith, a small-business owner from California, who supported the bill.
And he said, "I'm signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days."