Bill Passed: Pres. Obama Says Country Near End of Health Care Reform Battle

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama said Thursday that the country is close to the "end of a nearly century-long struggle to reform America's health care system."

The government is "now finally poised to deliver on the promise of real, meaningful health-insurance reform that will bring additional security and stability to the American people," Obama said shortly after the Senate passed a sweeping $871 billion health care bill.

The president, speaking at the White House, called the reform measure the most important piece of social legislation since the passage of Social Security in the 1930s.

He praised both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for passing bills through their respective chambers, and he called on Congress to "take up the last and most important step" of merging the two bills.

The president was scheduled to leave for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii shortly after the Senate vote.