Pelosi on Obamacare: I Knew Ted Kennedy ‘Would Go to Heaven and Help Us Pass the Bill’

By Elizabeth Harrington | June 28, 2012 | 1:31pm EDT

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ( Starr)

– House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that “It’s pretty exciting” that the Supreme Court upheld the health-care law’s individual mandate as a tax, saying now Sen. Ted Kennedy can “rest in peace.”

“I knew that when he left us he would go to heaven and help pass the bill,” Pelosi said of the late Massachusetts Democratic senator.

“Now I know he was busily at work until this decision came down, inspiring one way or another. And now he can rest in peace.”

Pelosi, who had previously predicted a 6-3 victory for Obamacare, said the decision was “no surprise.”  The Minority Leader cited “interstate commerce” in defending the constitutionality of the law, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that the mandate is not justified under the Commerce Clause.

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“We thought—we knew we were on solid ground in terms of interstate commerce, solid ground in terms of the constitution, it was just a question of what the vote would be,” she said. “And with that confidence we happily embraced the decision that came down.”

“Now it can move forward with the full implementation of the law and when that happens for the American people the best is yet to come,” Pelosi said.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., poses for a picture with his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on Jan. 20, 2009. (AP File Photo/Sen. Patrick Leahy)

Congressional Democrats utilized the slogan, “Win one for Teddy,” when trying to pass healthcare reform in 2009 after Kennedy died of brain cancer that August. Kennedy was a longtime champion for health-care reform.

“I want to say a word about Senator [Ted] Kennedy,” Pelosi said. “I spoke to Vicki Kennedy this morning and Patrick Kennedy before coming here, thanking them for the important role that he played a lifetime of commitment to making healthcare a right, not a privilege in our country. He called it the great unfinished business of our country, our society.”

In a Supreme Court decision Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the individual mandate is not justified under the Commerce Clause but could be justified under the Congress’ power to tax and spend.

“The Court today holds that our Constitution protects us from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause so long as we abstain from the regulated activity. But from its creation, the Constitution has made no such promise with respect to taxes,” he wrote in the 5-4 majority opinion.

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