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Health care bill passes House with votes of five Wisconsin members

WASHINGTON D.C. - All five Wisconsin Democrats voted yes when the House passed the landmark health care reform package late last night. The total vote was 219-to-212, with all GOP members and 34 Democrats dissenting.

President Obama now gets what the Senate passed on Christmas Eve, and he'll sign it as early as tomorrow. The Senate will act this week on a separate package of changes approved by the House. Within 90 days, those with no insurance due to pre-existing conditions could join high-risk coverage pools. And within six months, health insurance would be extended to 32 million Americans who don't have it now. Most people would be forced to buy it, and most employers would have to offer it. But critics say many employers will just pay the penalties, and let the government cover their workers.

Wausau Democrat David Obey says it's about time the average family gets quote, "a true sense of security on health care." Milwaukee Democrat Gwen Moore called it a "tremendous moment." And when a Journal Sentinel reporter asked what was going through her mind a few hours before the vote, Moore started dancing and singing the Michael Jackson song "Thriller."

Janesville Republican Paul Ryan called the health package a "government takeover" and a "fiscal Frankenstein." The president issued an executive order banning federal health coverage for abortions, but Menomonee Falls Republican Jim Sensenbrenner called it a "piece of paper that would have not the effect of law."

The two bills would cost $940-billion dollars over a decade, but supporters say they'd cut the deficit by $138-billion over that time.

The Minnesota House delegation was split 4-4 with DFLers Oberstar, McCollumn, Ellinson and Walz voting for it and Republicans Klein, Paulsen and Bachmann voting against the bill along with DFLer Collin Petersen.