Obama Has Only 59 Votes for Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill as He Meets Democrats
by Steven Ertelt
December 15, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — President Barack Obama today met with Senate Democrats in a last-ditch effort to corral his caucus together behind a health care bill that contains massive abortion funding. As they gathered, it appeared from public statements that Obama has just 59 votes for the bill, but needing 60 to pass it.
Obama told lawmakers today at the White House meeting that "it’s clear" Congress is "on the precipice" of passing the pro-abortion health care bill.
"There are some differences that still have to be worked on," he said at the White House, but "there is broad consensus around reforms."
"There’s too much at stake," Obama warned Democrats and he reportedly told them, according to CNN that they "simply cannot let differences" on some parts of the bill derail the entire bill.
"I’m feeling cautiously optimistic we can get this done," he added in remarks shortly after meeting with the Democrats.
The day started with what political observers see as a turnaround by pro-abortion independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.
At one point, Lieberman appeared to be a potential no vote on the bill because of his opposition to the government-run public option and Medicare expansion. With Obama and Senate Leader Harry Reid pledging to water down the public option and keep the Medicare expansion out of the bill, Lieberman made several comments today making it appear he would likely support it.
"To be as explicit as I can be now, if as it appears to be happening, the so-called public option, government-run insurance program is out, and the Medicare buy-inwhich I thought would jeopardize Medicare, cost taxpayers billions of dollars over the long haul, increase our deficitis out, and there’s no other attempts to bring things like that in, then… I am getting to that position to where I can say what I wanted to say all along, that I’m ready to vote for health care reform," he said.
With Lieberman on board and Obama and company not appearing to get the support of any Republicans, including Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Democrats appear to have 59 votes for the bill — minus Sen. Ben Nelson.
Nelson is the Nebraska Democrat who sponsored an amendment to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions under the bill, but the Senate defeated it.
Since then, he has maintained that he will join the chamber’s 40 Republicans in filibustering the measure unless Reid agrees to add an abortion funding ban he approves.
Nelson spoke with Obama one-on-one early Tuesday and, prior to the Democratic caucus meeting, said he was still opposed to the bill.
"I’m not on the bill," he told Politico.
Nelson added that Obama and Senate Democrats know they still do not have 60 votes in place.
"I have spoken with the president and he knows they are not wrapped up today. I think everybody understands they are not wrapped up today and that impression will not be given," he added.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, though, predicted that Democrats will have 60 votes next week to pass the pro-abortion health care bill.
We are moving towards 60, Durbin said. We think we will have it by next week.
The spirit within the caucus over the last 24-48 hours appears to be one of watering down parts of the bill to get 60 votes and Durbin admitted that is the case.
If you don’t have 60, you’re empty-handed, Durbin said. In this case, we need to find a way to get to 60 votes, and that means accommodating and making concessions on a lot of issues we’d rather not make concessions on.
Obama, in his remarks, appeared to say the same thing.
"Let’s be clear: the final bill won’t include everything that everybody wants. No bill can do that," he said.
The question remains, will Sen. Ben Nelson eventually believe that to be the case or will he hold out as the 41st vote against the bill.
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