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Obama makes history again. -

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The United States congress passed Barack Obama's landmark healthcare reform bill today. ABC
correspondent Michael Brissenden speaks with Kerry O'Brien from Washington DC.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: In the shadow of midnight last night, Washington time, the US Congress
finally passed President Barack Obama's heavily amended bill to reform the American health system.

It was at the centre of President Obama's election platform and his credibility rested heavily on
it. Within minutes of the historic vote, the President emerged at the White House to put his stamp
on it.

BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Tonight, after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration,
after decades of trying and a year of sustained effort and debate, the United States' Congress
finally declared that America's workers and America's families and America's small businesses
deserve the security of knowing that here in this country neither illness nor accident should
endanger the dreams they've worked a lifetime to achieve.

Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our
politics.

KERRY O'BRIEN: At the last minute before the vote, the President was forced to issue a personal
pledge that no public money under the scheme would be spent on abortion procedures as a result of
his legislation. But politically, he could not afford this bill to fail.

To discuss the political ramifications I spoke late today with the ABC's Washington correspondent,
Michael Brissenden.

Michael Brissenden, this has been a long time coming with a lot of forced compromise along the way.
How much of a victory is left in this for Barack Obama?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Barack Obama came out after this vote tonight
late tonight and says, "This is what change looks like", Kerry. So, clearly Barack Obama wants to
use this to reenergise his presidency. It has been a very long time coming, as you say, and he is
going to use it to try and rebuild his presidency after really what's been a year of very, very
divisive debate - and debate that's actually fed to a certain perception about his presidency and
his leadership that hasn't done him very well - hasn't been very good for him over this period of
time. So clearly, he's coming out fighting now and he's going to use this to try to rebuild faith
in his leadership and rebuild his presidency.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Presumably it'll take time for the positives of the bill to negate the effects of
the scare campaign that's been waged over the past year or more.

Is there time enough now for President Obama and the Democrats to regain support before the
congressional election in November?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, that's really the big question. I mean the campaigning for the
congressional elections really starts now.

There really isn't very much time at all and a lot of these... A lot of the aspects of this bill
will roll out, will be phased in over a period of time, so there will be some immediate benefits
for people, but whether it's long enough to actually give... to take... Well, to give it back some
of the gloss that I think the Democrats hope that the voters can take from it remains to be seen.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So what are the positive elements of this bill that will kick in quickly with the
electorate?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Any children with pre-existing conditions will not be able to be denied
insurance. Parents will be able to keep their children on their own insurance policies until
they're 26 and some people who at this stage don't have insurance will start getting insurance.

Now that will start - will be phased in until 2014, so it'll be 2014 before the 32 million people
who are not covered who will be covered by this bill will be fully covered.

KERRY O'BRIEN: A significant number of states are opposed to the health bill and there's talk of a
constitutional challenge. Is that really likely to materialise and what is the scope to yet derail
this health bill via the courts?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, I guess that depends on how... On the public opinion, really, and how
vocal the public is about this and how contentious this bill continues to be.

Certainly there are quite a few states who've said they will launch constitutional challenges to
this, because it does impinge on their states' rights, they believe. How many actually go through
with that remains to be seen, as well. There's a lot to come in this and certainly there's a lot of
politicking to come over the next few months and perhaps the next few years.

KERRY O'BRIEN: When we talk about the gloss that has come off the Obama image, how effective was he
when he finally did get out on the hustings to get the bill across the line just in the last week
or so?

How pivotal do you think was that in getting the bill through?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, it was very pivotal. Only a couple of months ago, after Scott Brown won
the election in Massachusetts and took Ted Kennedy's seat there was a lot of despondency and
despair in the Democratic Party. Nobody really thought that they could get the health bill back up
again.

It was the last week or so of-of personal engagement by President Obama talking to wavering
Democrats and basically putting the point to them that it was really about his presidency as much
as anything else, that if he didn't get this bill up then the presidency - the Democratic
presidency - would be seriously affected.

That had a lot of impact.

But also what had a big impact - certainly late in the stage this afternoon - was his decision to
offer a presidential executive order to reinforce those parts of the bill that would basically
disallow the use of any Federal money for abortion. So there was a very strong anti-abortion
faction within the Democratic Party that was required... that needed to be won over and Barack
Obama certainly pulled out everything he could this afternoon without also disaffecting those on
the left of his party and won them over.

So that was very important and his involvement was obviously very, very significant.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Michael, thanks for talking with us.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Thanks, Kerry.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Michael Brissenden in Washington.