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Obama Postpones Asia Trip Until Summer to Work on Health Care Bill


President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House March 18. (AP Photo)

President Obama has postponed his trip to Asia until June so he can work on health care reform and guide the bill toward a possible vote Sunday. 

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Obama, who already postponed his trip to Indonesia and Australia once and was expected to leave Sunday, called up the leaders of those countries to inform them of the change in plans. 

"The president greatly regrets the delay," Gibbs said. "But passage of health insurance reform is of paramount importance, and the president is determined to see this battle through." 

The announcement comes as the Congressional Budget Office releases preliminary estimates showing the updated health care package would cost $940 billion over 10 years. House Democrats took the estimate as good news, though a final price tag has still not been determined. 

The public is expected to have 72 hours to review the bill before the House votes on it. The House is trying to both approve the Senate-passed version of the bill as well as a package of changes. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she did not ask the president to postpone his trip, but was glad he did. 

"I'm delighted he's going to be here," she said.