First Senate Vote on Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill Pushed Back to Late This Week

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 16, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

First Senate Vote on Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill Pushed Back to Late This Week

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 16
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The first vote on the Senate version of the government-run health care bill, which is expected to include massive abortion funding, has been pushed back to later in the week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will need 60 votes for his Motion to Proceed, which will begin the health care debate in the Senate.

The Motion to Proceed is needed to proceed with consideration of the Senate bill, which will be substituted for the House version as soon as the motion as approved.

Reid must start with the House bill for technical reasons since he has failed to craft a Senate bill yet.

Sen. Tom Harkin, an abortion advocate whose committee adopted one of two Senate health care bills that funds abortions and that Reid will merge into one final bill, which has yet to be unveiled, predicted Reid will get his 60 votes.

However, instead of a Tuesday vote, Harkin said the motion would be pushed back to Thursday or Friday.

As a result, Harkin said senators will not begin considering amendments to the health care bill until lawmakers return from the Thanksgiving recess next week.

When they do finally vote, they will likely consider an amendment similar to the Stupak amendment in the House that would de-fund virtually all abortions under the bill.

However, as has reported, it appears the pro-life side will not have enough votes for the amendment, which Harkin’s and another committee defeated. As a result, pro-life lawmakers and groups will likely shift to a strategy of trying to delay and defeat the bill outright.

In an alert emailed to its members this afternoon, the Family Research Council warned that "the Senate could begin debate on the health care bill this week without any guarantee the government will not pay for abortions."

FRC fears Reid will not keep the Stupak amendment in the Senate version of the bill.

"Senator Reid is expected to take up the House bill, and then replace it with a ‘Senate substitute,’ which will fund elective abortions," FRC added. "This vote must be stopped and may happen as early as Thursday.

"E-mail your Senators and urge them ‘to vote No on any procedural vote to move to the health bill unless Senator Reid’s version of the bill contains the Stupak-Pitts amendment to ban government funding of abortion," it added.

Senate Republicans are expected to use a delaying motion to require the Senate to read the entire health care bill on the Senate floor. Harkin told The Hill today that they are welcome to do so, but Reid and his backers would force senators to spend this coming weekend in the Senate instead of heading home for the Thanksgiving recess.

"I’ll tell you, we’re going to do something like that," Harkin said. "We are planning to do something that would require Republicans to be there 24 hours a day, and if they leave the floor, we’ll ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading, and that’ll be the end of it."

Harkin said the Senate would be in session likely every day after Thanksgiving to get through the hundreds of amendments that are expected to be offered and to have a final vote on the bill by Christmas.

Under that scenario, Reid would appoint members of the conference committee who will meet with their House colleagues during the Christmas break.

The goal would be to get the final bill, which would likely fund abortions, back to the House and Senate the first two weeks in January and approved and to President Barack Obama by mid-January.

ACTION: Go to or call 202-224-3121 to ask your senators to vote no on the Motion to Proceed.

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