Fate of Pro-Abortion Senate Health Care Bill Rests With Democrats, Public Option
by Steven Ertelt
November 23, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Now that the Senate has approved the Motion to Proceed on its pro-abortion health care reform bill, its fate rests with Democrats who will determine whether changes will be made to the legislation and whether they like them. The only consistent pro-life Democrat has said he will vote no if abortion funding remains.
The Senate voted on a slim partisan margin of 60-39 Saturday night to begin debate on the bill and will consider potentially hundreds of amendments starting the week after Thanksgiving.
For the pro-life movement, stopping the massive abortion funding through the public option and the affordability credits is priority number one.
Sen. Orrin Hatch plans on proposing an amendment similar to the Stupak amendment that would yank the abortion funding, but it is not expected to get the 60 votes needed to be added to the legislation.
If the amendment is defeated, Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson says he will vote against the bill. He said over the weekend that he would have voted not if the vote had been on the final bill and not on starting the debate.
"I would have voted no. I would have voted not to end debate. I would have voted no on a cloture vote to end debate," he said Sunday on ABC’s This Week program. "I would not let it get off the floor."
Nelson says he submitted a list of changes to Senate leader Harry Reid, with abortion among them.
"There will be a lot of discussion back and forth about what might get enough votes," Nelson said. "There will have to be fairly significant changes for others as well, not just me."
Nelson joins Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut as potential no votes.
Their decision on the bill could be determined by how the debate over the public option shakes out. On record as opposing the government-run option, which allows abortion funding, they are seeking a more limited opt-in version than the opt-out version currently in the bill.
However, if the limited version is adopted that could cause some more liberal lawmakers to consider opposing the bill.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said on Sunday on CNN, "I think, in the end, I don’t want four Democratic senators dictating to the other 56 of us and to the country, when the public plan option has this much support, that it’s not going to be in it."
And Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, said today that "many" Democratic senators would vote against the bill if it did not contain the public option.
"I believe there must be at least a strong public option," Sanders said. "I think I speak not just for myself, but for many members of the Democratic caucus."
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