Democrats May Look to House to OK Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill if Brown Wins

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Democrats May Look to House to OK Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill if Brown Wins

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 18
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown is leading in polls and if they hold up on Tuesday in the Massachusetts special election, he would become the 41st vote against the pro-abortion health care bill in the Senate. That is confounding efforts by President Barack Obama and Democrats to get the bill passed.

Brown faces pro-abortion Democrat Martha Coakley in a race to replace the late pro-abortion Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The outcome of the election has a significant bearing on the health care-abortion debate because the Senate approved its bill on a narrow 60-40 margin. Should Brown win, he has already promised to support the filibuster against the measure.

Democrats and Obama have been finalizing a compromise version of the legislation that would still require 60 votes in the Senate and a Brown win would drop the margin to 59-41 — enough to defeat the bill.

As a result, Obama and top Democrats are considering the alternative of having the House pass the Senate bill even though large segments of the Democratic caucus oppose various sections of the Senate bill — including its provisions allowing abortion funding.

Unlike the House measure, which contains the Stupak amendment prohibiting abortion funding under the government-run health care plan, the Senate bill allows abortion funding and contains other pro-abortion problems.

The realization of what a Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts means for the pro-abortion health care bill has slowly dawned on the White House and they’re getting desperate for a way out.

AP indicates Obama officials and top Democrats in Congress are discussing that fallback position.

"The simplest way is the House route," a White House aide told AP.

However, many House Democrats are reluctant to go along with the more liberal, pro-abortion majority to approve the Senate bill because of other political issues. And Rep. Bart Stupak says he has 10-12 legislators who will change their vote from yes to no on the final version if it contains the Senate’s funding for abortion.

Another option abortion advocates may pursue is having a compromise bill approved quickly before Brown has a chance to be certified as the new senator from Massachusetts, though public reaction to such an idea would likely be very negative.

Some say convincing another Republican such as pro-abortion Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine to support the bill is an option, though that is considered unlikely.

Congress could also ditch the bill and start over with a scaled back plan but, in an election year, this is seen as doubtful too because it would start over what has been a several month process that has led to Americans uniting in opposition to the bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already thrown cold water on the idea of the House approving the Senate bill.

According to MSNBC, Pelosi "has told the White House that she’s skeptical the House would pass that legislation, given the stark differences in some areas, but Senate Democrats and White House officials would push hard the notion that the bills are 90 percent similar."

MSNBC indicates House Democrats may want the Senate to approve its bill using the budget reconciliation process that allows a simply majority vote — but that also prompts a strong public backlash and would remove several parts of the bill.

Conservative writer Ed Morrissey gives his thoughts on the battle after a possible Brown victory.

"Unfortunately for Obama and Harry Reid, the House doesn’t want to enact the Senate version," he writes. "Nancy Pelosi’s union allies have already made their displeasure clear."

"Likelihood of passage in the House: slim. It’s not impossible, of course, but the original House version only passed by three votes, one of them Republican Joe Cao of New Orleans. True, that was a managed vote; Pelosi had a few more Democrats who could have switched votes at the time, but she managed to protect them from the political damage of a yes vote. Without a public option, some of her progressive caucus will bolt," Morrissey explains.

"It seems that the White House has belatedly agreed with Fred Barnes that Paul Kirk stops being a Senator on Tuesday night and cannot provide a 60th vote for an ObamaCare compromise, even if Massachusetts delays certification of Scott Brown, assuming he wins. If their Plan B consists of forcing the Senate version onto the House, ObamaCare is very close to getting derailed — and Obama will have lost six months of the legislative calendar," he continues.

"After Tuesday, Obama may have trouble getting to 50, let alone 60, if the Senate has to take this bill under consideration again," he concludes.

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