Senate Now Faces Pressure to Follow Suit on Obamacare Repeal

National   Steven Ertelt   Jan 20, 2011   |   11:12AM    Washington, DC

With the House having approved a bill to repeal the abortion-funding ObamaCare bill, pressure is now on the Senate to do so — although Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid doesn’t plan to allow a vote.

On a 245-189 vote, the House voted for the bill to repeal the law that had the federal government essentially taking over the health care industry and putting a program in place that prompted significant concerns about abortion funding and rationing. The vote received support from all Republicans and three Democrats.

Senator Mitch McConnell said he hoped the Senate would somehow be forced to “follow suit.”

“Republicans in the House of Representatives kept their promise to you by voting to repeal the Democrats’ health spending bill,” he said. “I want to congratulate our colleagues in the House on this important first step. I hope the Senate will soon follow suit with a vote of its own.”

The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will,” he added — in what sounded like a promise to push the Senate to act.  

Reid has already said he will not allow the repeal measure to enjoy a debate or vote, so Senate Republicans may be forced to employ filibusters or attempt to attach the repeal bill to another piece of legislation as an amendment in order to get a vote on it.

But, some vulnerable Democrats will face targeted advertising from the National Republican Senatorial Committee in their home states to urge them to ask Reid to allow a vote on the repeal measure. They include eight Senate Democrats up for re-election in competitive states next year.

Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Jim Webb of Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Jon Tester of Montana are included in the list. Three of the lawmakers — Casey, Ben Nelson and Manchin — ran as pro-life candidates and they would be expected to become the most visible recipients of pro-life lobbying urging a repeal vote.

Leading pro-life groups also pledged they would work overtime to pressure senators to take up a repeal measure.

“While the bill appears to be headed into a Democrat roadblock in the Senate, the House vote was an important first step in setting the stage for a series of debates on the health care law and other policies,” said Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org. “Americans are looking for new solutions to our nation’s ills, and the answers are to be found in the American people, not a federal bureaucracy.”

He said Obamacare must be overturned because “the law contained loopholes permitting taxpayer subsidized abortion coverage, threats to conscience, and threats to health care provider and patient freedoms.”

Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins added that “America now looks to Senator Harry Reid to allow the same up or down vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said the Senate would be “unwise to ignore” the House vote.

The House repeal vote also paves the way for axing the abortion funding from ObamaCare.

The rule also provides for consideration of H. Res. 9, which instructs relevant House Committees to replace Obamacare with legislation that achieves certain goals including to “prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions and provide conscience protections for health care providers.”

When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances.

Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table.

However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.

Under the new health care law, states will be in charge of their own health care exchanges that are available for individuals and small businesses.

The exchange doesn’t go into effect until 2014 and states are filing lawsuits seeking to stop the pro-abortion health care bill in its other pro-abortion provisions entirety, but states are moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.

Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana have passed similar bills that have already been signed into law by governors in those states and several other states are expected to consider legislation in their upcoming legislative sessions. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.