Top Democrat Contradicts Pelosi on Abortion, White House on March 18 Vote Date

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

Top Democrat Contradicts Pelosi on Abortion, White House on March 18 Vote Date

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 9
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — In a Tuesday morning interview, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Maryland lawmaker who is the second highest ranking Democrat in the House, contradicted Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the seriousness of the abortion funding debate and the White House on its March 18 vote timeline.

Hoyer told reporters at a press conference that the concerns a coalition of pro-life Democrats have about the Senate health care bill’s massive abortion funding "has to be resolved."

Although not having a plan on how to do so, Hoyer acknowledged "it is a serious issue that confronts the Congress" and added "we will talk" — referring to conversations with top pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak.

"I think it will be resolved one way or the other, and I think the bill will pass," Hoyer said, refusing to answer a direct question about whether Democrats had the votes for the pro-abortion health care bill with abortion funding intact. "It’s got to be resolved."

Hoyer also said he has not yet talked with Stupak or about his idea of a sidebar bill to eliminate abortion funding.

"I have had no negotiations with Mr. Stupak," Hoyer said, according to Politico. "Mr.Stupak came up to me on the floor and said I would like to talk to you. I said okay. We have no yet talked — about substance."

In the last few weeks, Pelosi has denied three times that the Senate health care bill funds abortions.

“I will not have it turned into a debate on (abortion),” she said when asked a follow-up question about Stupak.

“Let me say it clearly: we all agree on the three following things. … One is there is no federal funding for abortion. That is the law of the land. It is not changed in this bill. There is no change in the access to abortion. No more or no less: It is abortion neutral in terms of access or diminution of access. And, third, we want to pass a health care bill," she said.

Meanwhile, Hoyer contradicted the March 18 date the White House has set for the House to pass the Senate pro-abortion health care bill.

"None of us has mentioned the 18th, other than Mr. Gibbs," Hoyer said referring to President Barack Obama’s top spokesman and giving no date on when the House would take a vote.

"We are trying to do this as soon as possible. That continues to be our objective," he said, according to Politico. "We want to get this done. We want to get it done as soon as possible."

Hoyer stressed that date is "an objective and not a deadline but said he hoped to have the Senate bill approved in the coming weeks.

"We’re leaving on March 18 and we believe that we’re on schedule, based on our conversations with the Speaker and the majority leader, to get something done by then," Gibbs said earlier this month.

Responding to Hoyer’s comments, Gibbs said late Tuesday,
“There seems to be a disconnect” between the White House and Democrats in Congress.

During his press conference today, he said his comment about a March 18 vote date was “something that we gleaned from conversations had with Capitol Hill" and added that he didn’t have anything updating or contradicting his previous comment.

With the reconciliation bill that will follow not making any changes to the massive abortion funding and pro-abortion problems the Senate bill invites, stopping the Senate bill in the House is the main priority.

Thanks to the opposition from pro-life Democrats, pro-life advocates may be able to complicate the numbers game for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But Gibbs thinks there will be enough votes for the bill.

"We’re going to work every day to make sure we have the votes," he said. "My sense is that if the vote were held today, we would have the votes."

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