Senate Vote Coming on Nelson Amendment to Cut Health Care Abortion Funds

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 3, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Vote Coming on Nelson Amendment to Cut Health Care Abortion Funds

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 3
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The Senate was looking to vote soon, possibly as early as Friday, on the Nelson amendment that would remove the massive abortion funding contained in the Senate government-run health care bill. However, Senate leader Harry Reid ditched those plans later in the day.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who is co-sponsoring the amendment with Nelson, told CNN that Ried was pushing Nelson too hard to bring it up faster than he wanted.

"He (Nelson) is being pushed very hard by his side to bring it up before it’s ready to be brought up," Hatch said. "To do really good legislation around here, you need to make sure people who agree with you are on board and the outside groups feel good about it. There’s a lot of work I need to do and he needs to do."

Nelson himself indicated that he is not finished writing the legislation yet and wanted more time to finish crafting it and to receive input.
Nelson said he “did not feel rushed by Reid and blamed the delay on the complexities of writing the highly technical abortion language," according to CNN.

When the Senate does finally vote, the question will be whether the amendment will get 60 votes to overcome a pro-abortion filibuster.

The Nelson amendment is named for Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat who is the main sponsor of the as-yet-unveiled amendment along with leading Republican co-sponsor Sen. Orrin Hatch.

The Nelson-Hatch amendment will mirror the Stupak amendment added to the House version of the health care reform bill prior to its passage.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that Nelson “is ready” to offer an amendment once the Senate finishes its business on four amendments today, including the Mikulski amendment that pro-life groups opposed because it could open the door to mandating that insurance companies cover abortions.

Congressional Quarterly indicated a top Democratic aide confirmed the Nelson amendment would likely be next on the list of amendments to receive a vote, but nothing is certain in the ever-changing health care debate.

Once Nelson’s amendment comes up for debate, the question will be whether it will meet the 60-vote threshold and the initial guess from political observers is no.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who is the leader of the pro-abortion caucus in the Senate says it will be defeated.

"I think we’re going to win over here," she said, according to a MSNBC report.

Bloomberg News indicated pro-abortion Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the number two Senate Democrat behind Reid, said Nelson’s abortion amendment is “likely to be defeated.”

Should the Senate defeat the Nelson amendment, that could have implications for passage of the pro-abortion health care bill itself.

Today, Nelson renewed his pledge to filibuster the Senate bill if Stupak-like language isn’t included.

"If Stupak-type language is not in the bill at the end of the day, I can’t support getting it off the floor," to told reporters. "That’s not negotiable. No wiggle room."

Asked how party leaders can get a bill passed without Nelson, Durbin said, “that’s a good question, and we haven’t reached that point.”

Reid, Durbin and his pro-abortion allies will be working overtime to figure out how to overcome what could be a certain loss of the 60th vote needed to approve the bill.

Despite some mainstream media reports to the contrary, the Senate health care bill contains abortion funding.

The Senate health care bill contains a slightly-reworded version of the much-maligned Capps amendment, which a House committee approved on a partisan vote and which pro-life groups say is an accounting scheme to hide government-funded abortions.

"Reid has rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment and has substituted completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs," National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson assured previously.

"Reid seeks to cover elective abortions in two big new federal health programs, but tries to conceal that unpopular reality with layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping requirements," he continued.

Johnson notes that Reid’s bill establishes the public option and authorizes (on page 118) the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require coverage of any and all abortions throughout the public option program.

"This would be federal government funding of abortion, no matter how hard they try to disguise it," he says.

He also says the bill creates the affordability credits — new tax-supported subsidies to purchase private health plans — and that these government-funded credits can be used to purchase health insurance plans that directly pay for abortions.

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