Obama postpones Asia trip, will stay in Washington for final health care vote

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Obama postpones Asia trip to focus on health care

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has postponed his trip to Asia until June so he can stay in Washington for a possible Sunday vote on his health care overhaul plan.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday the president is disappointed and regrets having to delay his visits to Indonesia and Australia but has told the leaders of those nations that health care is a crucial priority.

“The president believes right now the place for him to be is in Washington seeing this through,” Gibbs said.

Obama had already delayed the trip to Indonesia and Australia, pushing back a Thursday departure until Sunday so he could help Democrats on Capitol Hill rally last-minute votes for the plan.

Gibbs said that while White House staff had tried to find a way to push the trip back another few days, the scheduling difficulties quickly made it clear that “the best course of business was to reschedule Indonesia and Australia until June.”

House Democrats believe they are on track to vote Sunday on a $940 billion health care bill that will expand coverage to millions.

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