Vote on Nelson Amendment to Stop Abortion Funds in Senate Health Care Delayed
by Steven Ertelt
December 4, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senators have delayed a vote on the Nelson-Hatch amendment that would prohibit virtually all abortion funding currently contained in the Senate health care bill. If approved without the amendment, the bill could wind up forcing Americans to pay for hundreds of thousands of abortions.
The bipartisan amendment comes from Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Yesterday, Senate leader Harry Reid had wanted to get to a vote on the Nelson amendment, but he delayed it after feeling pressured to move ahead. Nelson also indicated he wanted to run the language by pro-life groups to ensure it was successful in prohibiting abortion funding.
Today, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a pro-abortion Illinois Democrat, said the vote on the Nelson amendment will not come until Monday at the earliest.
Durbin also said he and other pro-abortion Democrats are trying to work out a compromise on the abortion funding language — although any compromise will likely result in Americans paying for abortions but the federal government hiding the funding using accounting schemes.
Durbin said there are "pretty serious conversations" taking place and that they hoped to resolve the abortion funding question so a vote on the government-run health care legislation could take place before Christmas.
"We feel like we’re moving to a point where soon we can talk about an endgame but we’re not there yet," he said. "Our goal is to finish this bill before Christmas."
The big question is whether the Nelson-Hatch amendment will pass and lawmakers on both sides of the abortion divide say it will not.
"We don’t believe the language offered at this moment is likely to pass," Durbin said today.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, a pro-abortion stalwart, added, I don’t think Stupak is passing so I’m not worried right now, we’re going to defeat it, according to The Hill.
Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl, who is pro-life, chimed in, saying, he expected all but a couple of Republicans to support the Nelson amendment but feared no more than a few Democrats would do so — making it so it will not get the 60 votes necessary to be approved.
Most Republicans will but I don’t think that will be enough to carry it through, its a 60-vote margin, Kyl told The Hill Thursday afternoon.
Should the Senate defeat the Nelson amendment, that could have implications for passage of the pro-abortion health care bill itself.
Yesterday, 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, thats 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 LifeNews.com 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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