President Barack Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could take a deep breath, when they secured a pivotal bloc of healthcare votes on Thursday when the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) gave the president their full support.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), decided to go along with a YES vote on the House healthcare bill, which had passed by only two votes. It was just a couple of days ago that he decided to vote NO because he and other Hispanic congressmen were unhappy with language that barred illegal immigrants from accessing the public health insurance exchanges. If they had voted No, it would have derailed the president's healthcare plan.
Just yesterday, on Wednesday, Gutierrez suggested he could come around if President Barack Obama gave him assurances that the administration would push for comprehensive immigration reform in this year.
Ultimately, the lawmakers determined the fight for the immigration language was not worth killing the broader package especially after President Barack Obama assured them that he would push for a broad immigration overhaul.
Gutierrez said at a news conference that he changed his mind after having a series of conversations with Obama during which the president renewed his commitment to immigration reform. He also said that he would let Obama announce the details of his immigration reform commitment, and this what the president did, announcing it on St Patrick day at a Whitehouse party.