House Democrats Don’t Have Votes Yet for Senate’s Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 14, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Democrats Don’t Have Votes Yet for Senate’s Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 14
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The key lieutenant of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who is responsible for heading up the arm twisting campaign to push the Senate pro-abortion health care bill admitted today that Democrats do not have the votes in the House yet to push it through. That gives pro-life groups further opportunity to lobby members.

This week, Democrats will move forward with a plan outlined on Thursday that has a "shell" or reconciliation bill moving through the committee process.

Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the House Majority Whip, told NBC’s "Meet the Press" that there are not enough votes to meet the 216-vote majority they need.

“We don’t have [the votes] as of this morning, but we’ve been working this thing all weekend. We’ll be working it going into the week,” Clyburn said.

He also predicted that the leading pro-life Democrat, Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, would ultimately vote for the pro-abortion bill, even though he and several colleagues have said they won’t support any health care measure promoting abortion.

“I do believe that Congressman [Bart] Stupak will end up voting for this bill,” he said.

As expected, Clyburn used the Catholic Health Association’s endorsement of the bill to push pro-life Democrats to vote for the Senate measure.

“We just had the Catholic hospitals endorse this bill,” Clyburn said. “I don’t think they’d be doing that if they were not comfortable with this language [funding abortions].”

Pelosi herself said Saturday she is confident the pro-abortion bill will pass.

"We’re very excited about where we are and will not be deterred by estimates that have no basis in fact," she said of claims that Democrats currently lack the votes.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs predicted today that the votes will eventually be there for the legislation by the end of the week when the vote is expected.

"We’ll have the votes when the House votes, I think, within the next week," Gibbs said on "Fox News Sunday."

Meanwhile, Rep. John Boehner, the leading Republican in the House, said his caucus would do everything possible to get Democrats to join them in opposing the pro-abortion bill.

He says Republicans are "going to do everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass the bill."

An analysis yesterday from The Hill, a newspaper that closely follows actions in Congress, indicated, "House Democratic leaders don’t have the votes to pass healthcare reform. At least not yet. Pelosi is clearly down in the vote count."

Thirty-four House Democrats are either firm no votes or leaning no, according to The Hill and dozens more remain undecided.

That undecided list includes Reps. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts and Anthony Weiner of New York as well as Reps. Jason Altmire and Chris Carney, both of Pennsylvania.

Reps. John Spratt of South Carolina, Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Jim Oberstar of Minnesota are also undecided. The latter two are pro-life Democrats.

Reps. Ike Skelton of Missouri and Collin Peterson of Minnesota, both of whom are pro-life, say they are firm no votes on the bill but pro-life groups are urging more calls and emails.

When the House passed its version of the health care bill last year, Pelosi and House Democrats got the bill approved on a 220-215 margin — only after the Stupak amendment was added to ban abortion funding.

Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana, the only Republican to back the bill, has since said he would vote no because of the abortion funding and Stupak says he is a firm no vote as well. That takes the margin to 218-217.

In addition, Florida’s Robert Wexler resigned, Rep. Neil Abercrombie retired to run for governor of Hawaii and Rep. John Murtha passed away — all three yes votes and none of whom have been replaced. That brings the margin to 217-215 against the bill.

The Hill indicates that, of the 34 firm no votes or leaning no votes that it has tallied from interviews with House members, eight of them backed the House bill in November. On the other hand, it notes nine Democrats who voted no who are on the fence.

Other top undecided or leaning votes that pro-life advocates should contact include: Reps. Marion Berry (Arkansas), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Steve Driehaus (Ohio) and Dan Lipinski (Illinois). They all say they are leaning against supporting the bill because of abortion funding.

Reps. Brad Ellsworth (Indiana), Jerry Costello (Illinois), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pennsylvania), and Charlie Wilson (Ohio) are pro-life Democrats who say they are undecided.

And Reps. Dale Kildee (Michigan) and Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) are Democrats who oppose abortion who say they are leaning towards supporting the bill.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, a pro-abortion New Jersey Democrat, admitted Friday to Congressional Quarterly that the vote is very close and Democrats are just under what they need.

"I think we’re in the range of 12-13 votes of getting this done," he said.

National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson told that every lawmaker will be held accountable for their votes on what Right to Life and pro-life organizations consider the most important pro-life votes in years because of the potential to fund hundreds of thousands of abortions.

"Every House Republican already opposes the Senate health bill, but President Obama and Speaker Pelosi think they can muscle the bill into law. They are whipping some Democrats into line and they plan to roll over the rest. But these lawmakers are ultimately accountable to their voters, not to their party leaders," he said.

Under the Senate health care bill that will be the main bill Obama and Democrats push through Congress, there is no ban on abortion funding. While some states can opt out of funding abortions under the plan, taxpayers in other states will be forced to pay for them.

But the bill contains other pro-abortion problems that are concerns for pro-life advocates.

The bill requires that at least one health care plan be promoted across the country that pays for abortions, more abortion funding would come via the affordability credits, and many of the so-called limits on abortion funding in the Senate bill are temporary and could expire or be overturned at a later date.

The Senate health care bill also pays for abortions under the Indian Health Service program.

And it contains the Mikulski amendment that would allow the Obama administration to define abortion as preventative care and force insurance plans to pay for abortions.

Finally, the Senate bill does not contain language needed to offer full conscience protection for pro-life medical workers and facilities.

Democrats will have the House Budget Committee starting things off with consideration of a companion bill, that will not remove the abortion funding or abortion promotion from the Senate bill, on Monday.

They will also use the so-called Slaughter Rule that will essentially have the House voting on rules for debate that essentially will have the House declaring the pro-abortion health care bill passed without actually taking a vote on it.

ACTION: Contact your member of Congress by going to and then tell every pro-life friend and family member to do the same. Urge opposition to the Senate bill, the compantion measure and the Slaughter Rule.

Related web sites:
The Hill list of where House members stand

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