The bill, passed on Thursday on a 392 to 37 vote, is "the most significant bipartisan policy legislation to pass through that chamber since Republicans regained a majority in 2011," says The New York Times.
Lawmakers couldn't immediately recall the last time a bill of such consequence had passed with a huge majority in the era of divided government, when just keeping federal agencies from shutting down counts as a major achievement, the Times says.
"I just want to say to the American people, don't look now but we're actually governing," said GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina.
"I want to give John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi credit" for negotiating the deal, President Obama said. "They did good work today."
The bill contains money for health care programs for children and low-income people that Democrats are touting as victories. Republicans get long-term though modest strengthening of Medicare's finances, including cost increases for higher-income recipients.
Under the bill, Medicare would pay doctors based on their performance, rewarding them for higher-quality work rather than for the volume of services.
Prospects have brightened for the bill in the Senate, as Democrats have muffled their criticism and Obama has embraced the bill, says The Associated Press.