Washington (CNN) — The House of Representatives on Saturday night passed a sweeping health care bill by a vote of 220-215.
Earlier, the House passed an amendment to pending health care legislation that prohibits federal funds for abortion services in the public option and in the insurance “exchange” the bill would create.
The vote passed 240-194.
A second amendment considered by the House, introduced by Minority Leader John Boehner, which would have substituted several sections of the health care bill dealing with insurance, did not pass. Legislators voted against the amendment 258-176.
The first amendment, introduced by anti-abortion Democrats, bans federal funds for abortion services in the public option and in the insurance “exchange” the bill would create. Its consideration was considered a big win for them and for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which used its power — especially with conservative Democrats in swing congressional districts — to help force other Democratic leaders to permit a vote that most of them oppose.
The prohibition, introduced by Democratic members, including Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Indiana, and Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, would exclude cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
Republicans strongly supported the measure.
The GOP accounted for 174 of the votes in favor of the amendment, with 1 Republican voting “present.”
On the Democrat’s side, 64 voted for the measure, and 194 voted against.
Earlier Saturday, President Obama said members of the House of Representatives face the chance of a lifetime as they consider the legislation.
After a meeting with the House Democratic leadership, the president said he told lawmakers that “opportunities like this come around maybe once in a generation.”
“This is their moment, this is our moment, to live up to the trust that the American people have placed in us,” Obama told reporters in the White House rose garden. “Even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard, this is our moment to deliver.”
He had just returned from Capitol Hill, where the House had begun debate on the nearly $1.1 trillion health care bill.
A senior Democratic aide quoted the president as saying during the meeting that he was “absolutely confident” that they would pass the legislation.
“When I sign this in the rose garden, each and every one of you will be able to look back and say, ‘This was my finest moment in politics,'” the aide quoted Obama as saying.
Anti-abortion Democrats will introduce an amendment to the measure that would ban most abortion coverage from the public option and other insurance providers in the new “exchange” the legislation would create, three Democratic sources told CNN.
The prohibition would exclude cases of rape, incest or if the woman’s life is in danger.
House Minority Leader John Boehner said the GOP leadership strongly supports that amendment.
“We believe taxpayer funding of abortion is wrong, and we will do everything we can to stop that from happening, by passing the Stupak amendment,” he said.
The fact that the amendment will be allowed to be proposed is a big win for anti-abortion Democrats and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which used its power — especially with conservative Democrats in swing congressional districts — to help force Democratic leaders to permit a vote that most of them oppose.
“We didn’t have a choice,” said a Democratic leadership source. “We didn’t have the votes” on health care without agreeing to this compromise.
Planned Parenthood decried the amendment, saying it would result in the elimination of abortion coverage currently offered by most private health insurance plans.
“This amendment would violate the spirit of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for all by creating a two-tiered system that would punish women, particularly those with low and modest incomes,” the group said in a statement.
The Democratic sources said people would be able to use their own money to purchase insurance policy riders that include abortion coverage.
“I foresee for poor women in America a return to the dark ages,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Florida.
Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus staunchly oppose including a provision that would bar undocumented workers from using their own money to buy health insurance policies available through the exchange.
The measure is already included in the Senate Finance Committee’s version of the bill and is backed by the White House. Some conservative House Democrats have also indicated their support for the Senate language.
Several Hispanic Caucus members who discussed the issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said they had received assurances the Senate language would not be included. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas, warned Thursday that several caucus members might try to block the House bill if it’s changed to conform to the Senate measure.
Pelosi’s bill includes various requirements for immigrants to verify their citizenship before getting federal subsidies to buy health insurance. Conservatives, however, have called the requirements insufficient.
Many conservatives and Blue Dog Democrats also continue to raise questions about the overall cost of the bill.
“The speaker’s bill includes job-killing taxes and mandates that will hurt small businesses,” Boehner said Friday. “For the sake of our families and small businesses, this job-killing bill needs to be defeated.”
The House bill would extend insurance coverage to 36 million uncovered Americans and guarantee that 96 percent of Americans have coverage, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Among other things, the bill would subsidize insurance for poorer Americans, establish a new government-run public option and create health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to purchase coverage. It would also cap annual out-of-pocket expenses and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Pelosi’s office has said the bill would cut the federal deficit by roughly $30 billion over the next decade. The measure is financed through a combination of a tax surcharge on wealthy Americans and spending constraints in Medicare and Medicaid.
CNN’s Dana Bash, Elaine Quijano, Lisa Desjardins, Alan Silverleib, Paul Steinhauser and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.