By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has admitted that the plan to use the controversial “reconciliation” method to ram through health care reform will not be able to resolve the issue of abortion funding in the bill.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the Speaker said that because the issues of abortion funding and immigration are not directly related to spending or taxation, they can’t be fixed under the reconciliation process.
“Under the budget resolution you can only take up issues that are central to the budget. None of these issues . . . are dealt with in the budget,” she said. “Neither of these issues is central to the bill. This is not an immigration bill, this is not an abortion bill. . . .”
This means that unless the abortion coverage is stripped out of the Senate version of health care reform, which is the version that must pass the House in order for the reconciliation process to go forward, it will most likely fail to pass because several pro-life Democrats have already indicated that they will vote “no” unless it is removed.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), the author of the Stupak Amendment, which stripped all abortion funding out of the House version of the bill, says he won’t vote for the Senate version as it currently stands. He has already publicly threatened to hold up the process if the final bill includes the Senate’s abortion language, which is less restrictive than the House version.
Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, one of 10 pro-life Democrats who voted yes on the House measure only after it was amended by the Stupak Amendment, told Congressional Quarterly on February 24, “I will not vote for a health care bill that doesn’t have the House abortion language in it.”
McCormack continues, “Back in November, Nancy Pelosi assented to an up or down vote on Stupak’s anti-abortion-funding amendment because she could not pass the bill without Stupak’s coalition of pro-life Democrats. Pelosi cannot resort to this maneuver again (and even if she could it’s not clear the pro-choice members of the House or Senate would go along with it).”
It is widely believed that the only reason the virulently pro-abortion Speaker even allowed a vote on the Stupak Amendment was because she needed the votes and knew she could have it stripped out of the final package when crafting a combined bill with the Senate in conference.
However, there is no “conference” option in the reconciliation process, which means the abortion issue remains a serious threat to the passage of this highly unpopular piece of legislation.
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