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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Obama signs health care bill, with Florida lawmakers looking on



With Florida Democrats on hand, President Obama just signed the health care bill into law, a triumphant occasion for his party but one that masks a bruising midterm election battle.

Debbiemeek Among the Florida lawmakers: Reps. Kathy Castor of Tampa; Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston; Kendrick Meek of Miami; Suzanne Kosmas of New Smyrna Beach; and Sen Bill Nelson. (Twitter photo posted by Wasserman Schultz of her and Meek)

"Fired up, ready to go. Fired up, ready to go," the crowd chanted as Obama entered the room with a beaming Vice President Joe Biden.

Said Obama, "It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week. For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America."

He thanked members of Congress "who did what was difficult but what was right." Kosmas and Panhandle Rep. Allen Boyd were against the original bill in November but voted yes on Sunday. Every Florida Democrat voted in favor; every Republican voted no.

Obama signed the Senate bill into law; a package of fixes approved by the House on Sunday night still needs to clear the Senate.

The law signed, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum will now file a lawsuit along with other states challenging the law, particularly a "individual mandate" that people have insurance. (story here) Florida's Republican Sen. George LeMieux sent McCollum a letter saying he supported the suit.

Gov. Charlie Crist -- a candidate for U.S. Senate -- also jumped on McCollum's action. “Any individual mandate of this kind from the federal government is unconstitutional, a direct attack on our essential personal liberties, and vastly increases the power of Washington bureaucrats that far exceeds the proper role of government," Crist said in a statement issued by his campaign.


(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:31pm]


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