Obama, Democrats Struggling for Votes for Pro-Abortion Senate Health Care Bill
by Steven Ertelt
March 8, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — President Barack Obama and top Democrats are struggling to find enough votes in the House for the Senate health care bill. As Democrats twist arms in the House, Obama left Washington for flyover country to try to sell the bill that funds and promotes abortions.
Backers of the legislation have set a date of March 18 for a vote on the legislation and, this week, they are overcoming a numbers game that shows them likely not having enough support for the bill because of abortion.
Democrats are furiously working on the reconciliation bill to make changes, other than stopping abortion funding, that they hope will pacify House Democrats on other political issues.
In a CNN interview on Sunday, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, one of the Democratic leaders in the House, talked about the difficulty in getting enough votes.
I believe it will pass. Do we have a mortal lock? No. Because people are still looking at some of the changes that are being made, he said.
This is going to be a discussion and we are going to be engaged in that dialogue for some time until we get it done, Van Hollen added, suggesting the March 18 date may be passed up.
Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, who backs abortion, admitted to Roll Call about the tough sell in the House.
I say this as a former House Member, any time you ask the House to swallow a Senate-passed bill, especially on something this broad, its a hard thing to ask anybody to do, and we are essentially asking the House to do that, he said.
And Rep. Brian Baird, a Washington Democrat, also admitted that Democrats are having problems finding votes and that his own vote as a retiring Democrat is in doubt.
"It has no impact on me whatsoever," Baird said. "At the end of the day saying do it for political reasons or don’t do it for political reasons makes no difference to me."
He told CNN host Candy Crowley "yes" when asked if there is a chance he could possibly vote against the measure even if it meant the bill would die.
"I don’t think this bill is what I would like to see us do if I ran the universe," Baird said.
Meanwhile, Obama appeared at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania today to try to sell the pro-abortion health care bill.
He tried to take an outsider’s perspective on the bill and the health care debate saying too many in Washington are focused on political ramifications of decisions.
"That’s just how Washington is. They can’t help it. They’re obsessed with the sport of politics. And so that’s the environment in which elected officials are operating," he said.
"We need to pass health care reform," he continued. "When’s the right time? If not now, when? If not us, who? Think about it. We’ve been talking about health care for nearly a century."
Democratic leaders in the House are struggling to get the 216 votes they need to pass the Senate bill in part because of a group of 12 pro-life Democrats and one Republican who say they will switch their votes from yes to no because the Senate bill, unlike the House measure, funds abortions.
The numbers on the Senate health care bill appear to be moving in the pro-life direction against the legislation — and more House members are saying they will oppose it.
Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, a South Dakota Democrat and leader of the 54-member Blue Dog coalition of conservative Democrats, told the Rapid City Journal newspaper she will vote against the bill.
And a spokesman for Rep. Frank Kratovil, a Maryland Democrat who was considered undecided, indicated Kratovil will vote no as well.
The House approved its bill 220-215 and the defection of Stupak, Republican Rep. Anh Cao, and those 10-12 Democrats would be enough to defeat the measure. With no Republicans planning to vote for the Senate bill, Democrats have to hope for some votes from among the gains among the 39 House Democrats who voted against the bill last time.
Yet, the Wall St. Journal surveyed all House Democrats who voted against the House bill and found just a half dozen members who say they are undecided or leaning yes.
Republican leaders are confident Pelosi will not be able to get the votes to pass the bill.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, says he is confident 11 of the 40 Democrats who voted for the House bill and for the Stupak amendment are likely to vote no because of the abortion funding in the Senate measure.
Pelosi has lost four of the votes she needs for the bill to resignations and changes in the makeup of the House and that leaves her with just 216 to start with to pass the bill — the number she needs to get it through.
The process also doesn’t take into account some liberal Democrats who voted yes for the bill and may vote against the Senate bill because it is not liberal enough.
Ultimately, with more members likely switching from yes to no than from no to yes, Pelosi has an uphill battle. But pro-life advocates will not yield any ground in trying to get as many votes against the bill as possible.
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