Senator: Pro-Abortion Democrats Will Dominate Health Care Conference Committee

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 30, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator: Pro-Abortion Democrats Will Dominate Health Care Conference Committee

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 30
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Senator Charles Grassley is confirming the expectation that the conference committee that will meet to reconcile the differences in the congressional health care bills will be dominated by abortion advocates. If so, the Senate language funding abortions may emerge in the final legislation.

With the House and Senate approving divergent bills, a conference committee must meet to hammer out the final measure for each chamber to vote on before it can go to President Barack Obama.

The Senate measure current funds abortions and paves the way for forcing insurance companies to pay for abortions while the House measure has the Stupak amendment banning abortion funding.

Grassley said Wednesday during a press conference that Democrats named to the committee will likely "huddle secretly" in order to get the legislation written the way they want.

"I think that this will be one of those instances where, following along on the stimulus bill of last February, I will be a conferee but Democrats will huddle secretly and come to the conclusion of what they want to do and then announce it and, you know, it’s a take it or leave it," he said, according to The Hill.

"It will pretty much be partisan in conference," he added.

Speculation has also centered on whether the conference committee will have formal meetings or whether it will not ever have one as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid and their lieutenants combine the bill.

Under a more formal process, in the Senate, Reid would appoint three members of the panel and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would appoint two — one of whom would likely be Grassley.

The Hill said he didn’t know how much input he will be able to have on the final version of the bill, if any. But he said the entire process would run much differently if Republicans were in charge.

"My guess is that it’s going to be a lot different than when I was chairman of the [Senate Finance] committee [and Democrats were involved in negotiations]," he said. "I hope it is otherwise."

If the process for appointing members of the conference committee follows tradition, the heads of the committees that contributed to the final legislation will be appointed to the panel.

On the Senate side, that means Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa — all abortion advocates — will decide the fate of the abortion language. The House side would also feature pro-abortion stalwarts: Reps. George Miller and Henry Waxman of California and Rep. Charles Rangel of New York.

The conference committee will have to determine whether it wants to keep the Senate language — potentially frustrating pro-life Democrats in the House who may vote against the bill — or the Stupak amendment, which pro-abortion lawmakers say may prompt them to vote against the bill.

Although it is not necessarily an indication of the direction the conference committee will go with the abortion language, the Senate bill may become the basis of the final health care legislation — if only because the Senate had a much more difficult time getting the 60 votes needed to pass the bill.

What is clear is that pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak has said he has at least 10 Democrats and likely one Republican who will change their vote to a no if the abortion funding ban is removed from the bill or if the Senate abortion language is used.

“At the end of the day we are going to have something along the lines of my language,” he said last week.

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