In the late afternoon, he made the decision to take one more chance. He agreed to issue an executive order declaring that the healthcare measure would not change the existing ban on federal funding for abortions.
That brought over Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), leader of the last Democratic holdouts, even though the order risked infuriating some of Obama's most important supporters.
Looking forward, the question is whether Obama can build on the momentum of his healthcare victory.
As Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) said Sunday, the obstacles to other legislative goals won't disappear with passage of healthcare.
"Financial reform is just around the corner. But it's not like the American Bankers Assn. is going to endorse an independent consumer protection agency just because the healthcare bill passes," Sherman said. "That doesn't mean the immigration bill is going to pass.
"Everything else is a very heavy lift," he said.
Janet Hook in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.