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Obama to sign health bill as GOP vows Senate fight

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President Obama is expected to sign the main Senate health care bill Tuesday in a ceremony on the White House South Lawn.

Then he'll hit the road to resume selling it to a reluctant public as the fight turns to the Senate, where lawmakers were expected as early as Tuesday to begin debating a package of changes to the historic bill that cleared the House late Sunday.

Senators are preparing to vote on the changes, in the form of a "reconciliation" bill that amends the Senate bill that the House lawmakers have now approved.

Obama will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, the White House said, as he turns to seeing the reconciliation bill through the Senate.

Senate Democrats hope to approve it unchanged and send it directly to Obama; however, Republicans intend to attempt parliamentary objections that could change the bill and require it to go back to the House.

Senate debate will be limited to 20 hours, and 51 votes will be needed for passage. Democrats control 59 seats in the Senate, but they expect to lose the votes of some of their conservatives.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who faces a difficult re-election campaign, said she'd oppose the measure, charging that the House-drafted reconciliation bill "wasn't subject to the same transparency and thorough debate that we used in the Senate." Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), also announced that he'll oppose the reconciliation bill.

Republicans began their Senate assault Monday, as Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky charged that Democrats "want us to endorse a raft of new sweetheart deals that were struck behind closed doors last week so this thing could limp over the finish line."

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The White House is countering with its own campaign.

Meanwhile, a group of states announced plans to challenge the health overhaul in court. The Florida attorney general said the mandate for individuals to obtain insurance is unconstitutional and that Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington will join the case. The Virginia attorney general also announced plans for a suit, calling the legislation an "unconstitutional overreach" of federal authority.

- Combined news services

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