The Huffington Post reported today:
One of Congress’s foremost champions of abortion rights said on Monday that the Senate did not have the votes to add a more restrictive anti-abortion amendment to health care reform legislation.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said that 60 votes would be needed to strip the current health care bill of its abortion-related language and replace it with a version resembling that passed by the House…. And… [she] predicted that pro-choice forces in the Senate would keep that from happening….
But Politico reported November 9…
Abortion threatened to derail a House health reform bill Saturday, and now it’s standing in the way of Reid’s attempts to get 60 votes as well, with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) saying he wants to see language as restrictive as the House’s in the Senate bill.
If the language isn’t clear in prohibiting federal funds for abortion, “you could be sure I would vote against it,” said Nelson, who met with Reid on Monday.
So their side is saying we don’t have 60 votes to include a Stupak/Pitts-type amendment in the Senate, and our side is saying they don’t have 60 votes to pass a healthcare bill without it.
I spoke with Michael Schwartz, Chief of Staff to Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK, pictured right) this morning, and he confirmed the stalemate.
“We have a very good shot of defeating this bill – the whole bill – in the Senate,” Schwartz said. “A stalemate means we win. We’ve got a big fight ahead of us, but it is a winnable fight.”
I asked Schwartz if there were any Stupaks in the Senate, willing to fight against abortion in healthcare to the end. He confirmed Nelson is the only one.
“Such a bill might pick up 5 or 6 Democrat votes,” said Schwartz. “But most Democrats in the Senate are so beholden to the abortion lobby they couldn’t vote for this – and so are some Republicans.”
What about Bob Casey?
“Casey is sincerely pro-life,” said Schwartz. “But he is so in favor of socialized medicine he’d hold his nose and vote for the bill without abortion exclusions.”
But, Schwartz added, “Casey would definitely offer a Stupak amendment if he thought it would help pass the bill.”
Which we don’t want. We want to stop this in the Senate. Nevertheless, if such were to happen, the abortion hot potato would go back to the House, where Schwartz is confident Nancy Pelosi has promised pro-aborts she’ll strip out Stupak/Pitts.
Which brings us back to Stupak, who has warned Pelosi not to “double-cross” him, or “there will be 40 people who won’t vote with them the next time they need us–and that could be the final version of this bill.”
Which brings us back to another stalemate, since CO pro-abort Rep. Diana DeGette (pictured right) has sent a letter to Pelosi stating 40 pro-aborts won’t vote for a final version of heathcare if it retains the Stupak/Pitts amendment.
[Photo of Boxer via HuffPo; photo of Nelson via wdcpix]