Abortion Clash Moves To Senate As Centrists Seek House-Like Provision In Health Bill
Roll Call reports that the impending fight has also sparked the attention of the abortion-rights lobby. "Abortion-rights advocates, who were outmaneuvered in the House's health care reform vote, are banking on tougher Senate rules and targeted lobbying to keep restrictive abortion language out of that chamber's bill." The House-passed bill includes "language that bars publicly subsidized health care plans from offering elective abortions, even if they only use private money to pay for the procedure" (Roth, 11/10).
The Los Angeles Times: "The Senate legislation contains looser restrictions on abortion coverage than were approved by the House. But already at least one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, has signaled that he may be willing to work with abortion rights opponents on developing language similar to the House's." Others targeted by activists to support such a move include Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Since Senate Democrats will likely need all their party's votes to pass a health bill, the two Senators have "significant leverage in demanding tough language" on abortion, the LA Times reports (Oliphant and Geiger, 11/10).
The Wall Street Journal reports that Nelson said that if it's not clear that federal money won't be used for abortions then he won't support a bill. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "opposes abortion and faces re-election next year in a conservative state. He is often in a delicate position over the issue, since he leads a Democratic caucus that strongly supports abortion rights. ... If Mr. Reid doesn't include the (Rep. Bart) Stupak language in his bill, proponents are all but certain to offer it as an amendment" (Bendavid and Adamy, 11/10).
Politico: "Other key moderates didn't go quite that far, but at least two others - Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana - said they, too, want to ensure that the Senate bill prevents federal dollars from paying for abortion" (Budoff Brown and Allen, 11/9).
The Associated Press: Former President Bill Clinton is "expected to speak to Senate Democrats about health care legislation during their weekly caucus Tuesday, officials said." The AP reports that "President Barack Obama wants to sign the legislation into law by the end of the year. But abortion opponents in the Senate are seeking tough restrictions in the health care overhaul bill, a move that could roil a shaky Democratic effort" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/10).
CongressDaily: "Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said he does not expect Reid to include the House language in the Senate bill since it was not included in either of the two committee versions." Reid is waiting for Congressional Budget Office scores on his plans before debate in the Senate can begin (Edney, 11/10).