Dems to Stop Negotiating on Abortion in Health Care

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Leaders on Capitol Hill have decided to stop trying to negotiate with pro-life Democrats over abortion funding in health care reform with the hopes that they can garner enough votes to pass the bill without them.

According to a report by, Democratic party leaders acknowledged yesterday that they can’t resolve the dispute over abortion funding using budget reconciliation rules. Under these rules, the House would have to first pass the Senate version of health care, which contains abortion funding, and trust the Senate to enact changes to the bill later – something too few pro-life Democrats are willing to risk.

According to Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, there are enough Democrats who oppose legalized abortion who “are either satisfied enough with the Senate provision, or they decided that that’s as much as they’re going to get and they don’t want to defeat health care.”

Fox reports that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer concurred with Waxman’s comments.

As a result, leaders will now focus their attention on lawmakers who voted “no” on the House bill last time with the hopes of flipping enough into the “yes” column to pass the bill.

According to the latest “whip count” by The Hill, there are 26 Democrats expected to vote “no.” At least 79 remain undecided, many of whom are in swing districts with tough re-election bids underway. The rest are expected to vote “yes” with the exception of the Hispanic Caucus which is now threatening to vote no unless the bill addresses immigrant concerns.
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