Senate Leader Postpones Vote on Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill Until September
by Steven Ertelt
July 23, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — In a move that gives pro-life advocates more time to organize, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that the Senate will not vote on a health care restructuring bill until September. The pro-life community is concerned the bill could lead to massive taxpayer funding of abortion and coverage mandates.
Despite a nationally televised press conference featuring pro-abortion President Barack Obama pleading for a vote before the August recess, Reid says the Senate will wait.
Its a complex, difficult issue, Reid said. I think its better to have a product that is one based on quality and thoughtfulness rather than pushing something through.
He said members of the Senate Finance Committee would approve the bill, that will be combined with one the Senate HELP Committee already approved, without pro-life amendments to limit abortion funding and coverage.
However, the debate has been so contentious that the panel may not approve the bill in time.
"The decision was made to give them more time and I don’t think it’s unreasonable," he said of the efforts by Republicans and Finance chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, to work on some compromise language.
Reid appeared to admit that growing opposition to the government-run health care plan and its abortion component is hampering his effort to find votes. His move will put pressure on pro-abortion House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to back down from her insistent pledge to move a health care bill before the traditional August recess.
Pelosi told reporters that the House could work into the August recess to pass a bill.
"I’m not afraid of August. It’s a month," Pelosi said. "What I am interested in is the sooner the better to pass [the bill.] We will take the bill to the floor when it is ready and when it is ready we will have the votes to pass it."
That comment comes as a top pro-life Democrat, Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, says he has enough votes to disrupt the vote on the bill or the rules allowing debate on it if it does not include language specifically excluding abortion funding and coverage.
Reid’s decision upset key abortion stalwarts like Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who blasted Baucus’ panel saying, "The Finance Committee keeps dragging their feet and dragging their feet and dragging their feet. It’s time for them to fish or cut bait."
Baucus said today that he hopes his panel will debate the bill, which could include numerous pro-life amendments, on the week of August 3.
At the same time, nine Democrats in the Senate have drafted a letter urging Baucus to wait and work on drafting a better bill.
When the Senate HELP committee adopted its version of the health care bill, the Senate panel voted to include abortions.
The panel’s vote came after all of the committee’s Democrats, minus Sen. Bob Casey, defeated four separate amendments to make the bill abortion neutral.
The panel defeated an amendment from Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming to remove the "abortion mandate" from the health care bill and another from Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah to remove the abortion subsidies.
The committee also rejected an amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to protect state laws limiting abortions and abortion funding from being nullified by federal law under the health care bill and a second that would protect the conscience rights of health care workers.
"The Senate committee’s action in rejecting four pro-life amendments is just one more proof that the Democratic health-care bills currently under consideration represent the biggest pro-abortion power grab since Roe v. Wade," Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life told LifeNews.com at the time.
"These bills contain provisions that will result in mandates that virtually all health plans pay for abortion and that virtually all health networks establish abortion providers. They will provide federal funding for abortion on demand, and nullify state laws regulating abortion," he continued.
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