The US House of Representatives on Sunday opened a session set to culminate with a crucial vote on President Barack Obama's historic legislation to remake US health care.
Even before the formal debate began, lawmakers traded barbs over the measure, which would usher in the most sweeping overhaul of its kind in four decades, as hundreds of protesters outside chanted "Kill The Bill"
Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn denounced Democrats for celebrating legislation she charged would bring about "dependency on the federal government and the death of freedom."
Democratic Representative Allyson Schwartz trumpeted the bill as "a uniquely American solution to health care reform" and said it would bring down costs while extending coverage to 32 million Americans who currently lack it.
Lawmakers were expected to launch their formal debate on the legislation after 2 pm (1800 GMT) and vote sometime in the late afternoon or early evening, though some officials warned the decisive ballot could come near midnight (0400 GMT).