House Close to Votes for Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill, But Senate Another Story

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 21, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Close to Votes for Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill, But Senate Another Story

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 21
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — House leaders triumphantly announced yesterday that they are close to having enough votes to approve a health care bill with a public option that includes abortion funding. However, the Senate is another story as lawmakers shy away from supporting the government option that expands abortion funding further.

As reported on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her top lieutenants to conduct a vote count to determine where members of the party stand on HR 3200, which pro-life groups oppose.

The results came back showing 210 of the 218 lawmakers needed to support the pro-abortion bill are on board.

However, the Senate is a different ball game entirely because support for a bill with the public option is much weaker.

As the Associated Press notes in a new story today, "Obama and Democratic leaders have modest leverage over several pivotal Senate Democrats who are more concerned about their next election or feel they have little to lose by opposing their party’s hierarchy."

Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas is one such senator who may not provide Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the vote he needs from her to get to the 60-vote margin necessary to stop a filibuster.

"I’ve ruled out a government-funded and a government-operated plan," the lawmaker who is focused on a tough re-election bid, said.

Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, another state where Obama lost in the last presidential election and another state where Republicans are doing well, is in the same boat.

"I’m not for a government-run, national, taxpayer-subsidized plan, and never will be," she told the Associated Press.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is another lawmaker who could pose problems, especially after Democrats spurned him in his bid for re-election and after he supported John McCain for president.

Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, another moderate, is another vote that Reid can’t count on because he comes from a conservative state and may not go along with the final bill Reid produces.

Bayh told AP that if a party leader "is asking some of us to enable the passage of legislation that we think would be harmful to the people of our state, I don’t think that’s a fair thing to ask."

Reid could pacify these senators by relying on the Baucus bill that does not contain the government option and which easily passed the Senate Finance Committee with all Democrats and an additional Republican supporting it.

However, the bill would be in contrast with the House measure and a conference committee would have to work out the details of a bill that is sure to alienate one chamber’s ruling Democrats.

Also, Sen. Roland Burris, an Illinois Democrat, is one of the lawmakers who could wreak havoc on the other end of the spectrum.

He says he won’t vote for any bill without the government option.

"I would not support a bill that does not have a public option," he said. "That position will not change."

One harbinger of things to come in the Senate is yesterday’s vote on Medicare funding — which Reid planned to use to set up a vote on the health care bill. Several moderate Democrats walked and Reid not only didn’t get 60 votes to end debate but he didn’t obtain a majority either.

Bayh and Lieberman voted no, along with every Republican, as did several other moderates. Other lawmakers who could vote no on the health care bill such as Lincoln, Landrieu and pro-life Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, voted yes.

Thus, Reid could face as many as 12-15 lawmakers who could potentially vote no on the pro-abortion health care bill, depending on how it is written.

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