Hoping to see health care reform legislation to the end, President Barack Obama has once again delayed a trip to Australia and Asia, this time until June, spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the House of Representatives announced that it will place online the final text of the health care legislation that lawmakers will consider. Under self-imposed rules, the chamber will wait three days before voting, meaning that any final say on the bill will come Sunday afternoon at the earliest.
The president was scheduled to travel to Australia on that day, having already delayed the start date of the trip from March 18. Now he will be leaving even later -- though no specific date was mentioned.
"The president's pleased that the House will soon post the health care legislation on the Internet and that a final vote is coming," Gibbs said. "Since the House rules rightly provide for a 72-hour public review period, it is clear that a final vote on health insurance reform cannot take place before Sunday afternoon. As a result, the president telephoned the leader of Indonesia and will call the leader of Australia later this afternoon and told him he must postpone his planned visits for a later date so he can remain in Washington for this critical vote. The president now expects to visit Indonesia in June. The president greatly regrets the delay. Our international alliances are critical to America's security and economic progress, but passage of health insurance reform is of paramount importance and the president is determined to see this battle through."
"The president still believes we will have the votes," Gibbs added.