WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's yearlong health care overhaul drama featured dozens of speeches, contentious debate and a televised summit with lawmakers before a divided Congress passed the bill. An elaborate White House signing ceremony kicks off the next act: selling the sweeping changes to a skeptical public.
House and Senate Democrats who backed the bill, as well as lesser-known people whose health care struggles have touched Obama, were expected to join him Tuesday for the ceremony in the East Room. Afterward, Obama and much of that audience were heading to the Interior Department for an even larger celebration.
The White House did everything possible to make sure Obama's health care victory lap carried the day with no competition. A planned announcement of the administration's new drug control policy by Vice President Joe Biden was called off, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to hold his regular daily briefing for reporters and all Obama's meetings were closed to coverage, including one with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Act II begins Thursday when Obama visits Iowa City, Iowa — where as a presidential candidate he announced his health care plan in May 2007 — to talk about how it will help lower health care costs for small businesses and families.