Next Vote on Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill Tuesday, Reid May Shut Out Pro-Lifers
by Steven Ertelt
October 8, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Senate Finance Committee has put off a vote on the fifth pro-abortion health care bill until next Tuesday. News of the decision comes at a time when speculation is rampant that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will use an unrelated bill to get the pro-abortion health care package through the Senate.
The panel had been expected to vote on the Baucus bill this week, but Reid announced today that the vote would not take place until next week.
Republicans, with the exception of pro-abortion Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, will likely vote against the measure while Democrats will support it.
There is a chance pro-abortion Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and John Rockefeller, of Oregon and West Virginia, will not support the measure because they want the government-run health care option added to it. That would open the Baucus bill up to even more abortion funding.
If the committee passes the Baucus bill, pro-abortion Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have to combine the contrasting Baucus and Kennedy bills into one measure for the Senate to consider. He has called for votes on a combined bill sometime during the middle of the month.
But new reports yesterday indicate it is possible that Reid will use H.R. 1586 — an unrelated tax bill passed by the House in March — as the vehicle to move the pro-abortion health care package in the Senate.
Under a special procedure, Reid would offer an amendment to remove the entire language of the House-approved bill and replace it with the final legislation combining the Kennedy and Baucus bills.
The move would require 60 votes to end debate — a chance for pro-life advocates to halt the bill unless Democrats can keep their coalition of 60 lawmakers together.
If Reid gets his 60 votes to amend the bill then the Senate debates and votes on the new bill itself. At that point, Reid could prevent any amendments from being offered — including amendments to remove the abortion funding and mandates or rationing from the bill.
He may do so because any amendment that can’t obtain 60 votes could threaten the passage of the pro-abortion health care bill itself.
The key to the strategy is that the House would be able to approve the Senate bill without allowing any amendments — including the Stupak amendment to stop abortion funding — and send it directly to President Barack Obama.
This potential strategy, which political observers are saying is likely to happen, would shut pro-life advocates out of the process and virtually guarantee that the measure would contain abortion funding, mandates and rationing of health care for seniors and, potentially, other Americans.
The strategy would also make it so HR 3200, the bill that three House committees have already approved, would no longer be considered.
As a result, the abortion language in the Kennedy and Baucus bills are what pro-life advocates might expect to see in the final legislation that goes to Obama.
With regard to the Baucus bill, on a 13-10 vote the Senate Finance Committee rejected amendments from Sen. Orrin Hatch that would have the bill conform to current federal law prohibiting direct abortion funding.
Hatch amendment 355 would have made it so the Baucus bill "prohibits authorized or appropriated federal funds under this Mark from being used for elective abortions and plans that cover such abortions."
The committee also defeated a pro-life amendment to stop rationing and another pro-life amendment that would have offered protection for medical workers who don’t want to participate in or refer for abortions.
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