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History of Updates on Health Care Debate

January 10, 2011

Obamacare

In the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) Saturday, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced Sunday that no recorded votes will be held in the House this week. A vote to repeal Obamacare, originally scheduled for January 12, will be rescheduled.

July 14, 2010

Obamacare

The National Right to Life Committee reports that the Obama administration has already broken its promise not to fund abortion through the new health care law. Under a provision of Obamacare dealing with “high risk pools,” the state of Pennsylvania will receive $160 million in federal taxpayer money to fund insurance plans for over 5,000 people that will cover virtually any abortion. Douglas Johnson of the NRLC stated, “This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama's assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion -- but it will not be the last."

For the NRLC’s full report on this development, see http://www.nrlc.org/news_and_views/July10/nv071310part3.html

Kagan nomination

As expected, the Senate Judiciary Committee vote to confirm the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan has been postponed until next Tuesday, July 20.

June 8, 2010

Obamacare

White House allies are forming a new group, the “Health Information Center,” which will serve as a public relations firm to try to sell the President’s health care overhaul to the American public.

The group is now raising funds from unions, foundations, and corporations and hopes to spend $125 million during the next five years. Among those on its three-member board of directors is Sheila O’Connell, the longtime political director of the pro-abortion political fundraising organization EMILY’s List.

As the formation of HIC made the news, a new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that opposition to Obamacare remains strong. By a 58% to 35% margin, the public favors repeal of the President’s plan. Last March, immediately after Obamacare’s passage, the public supported repeal by a 55% to 42% margin.

April 7, 2010

Two more states, Arizona and Nevada, have joined the lawsuit filed by 14 other states challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare.

April 6, 2010

While Congress remains on Easter recess, lawsuits against the President’s new health care system continue to be filed. The latest is from the Thomas More Legal Center and four Michigan pro-lifers who state that Obamacare violates their First Amendment rights of conscience and free exercise of religion by forcing them to pay for abortions. The complaint also contains a cause of action contained in other suits, namely that it is unconstitutional for the government to force citizens to purchase a commercial product, health insurance.

A copy of the TMLC’s complaint is available at http://www.thomasmore.org/downloads/sb_thomasmore/TMLCFilesCourtChallengeMomentsAfterObamaHealt.pdf

March 31, 2010

The General Counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a legal analysis detailing why the final health care bills and the President’s Executive Order will still result in taxpayer subsidized abortion. The analysis concludes that “…the Executive Order cannot and does not fix the statutory problems of direct funding of abortion at [Community Health Centers], and of funding insurance plans that cover abortions; it cannot and does not make up for the absence of conscience protections that are missing from the statute….”

The text of the USCCB’s analysis can be found at http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/03-25-10Memo-re-Executive-Order-Final.pdf.

In the courtroom, Indiana became the 14th state to join in a lawsuit alleging that the new health care law unconstitutionally requires citizens to buy health insurance or face fines or incarceration.

March 30, 2010

Congressmen may be on their Easter vacation, but news about the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare) continues.

New polls show public dissatisfaction with the law. A USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday finds that 50% of the public view passage of the health care bill as a “bad thing;” 47% see it as a “good thing.” That’s a significant reversal from one week ago, when a 49% to 40% plurality saw enactment of the legislation as a “good thing.” Further, the latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows that 54% of Americans favor repeal of Obamacare, while 42% oppose repeal.

Added to the growing list of lawsuits against the new health care law are two more actions. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a 67-year-old organization of doctors, filed suit in federal district court arguing that the new health care law violates the Fifth and Tenth Amendments, the Commerce Clause, and the Constitution’s provisions authorizing taxation. In another case, Liberty University has brought a federal suit against the law, alleging that it unconstitutionally forces individuals and institutions to pay for abortions and to purchase or provide health insurance.

The reconciliation measure now goes to the President for his signature. Congress has closed shop for a two-week Easter recess.

March 26, 2010

The Senate passed the health care reconciliation bill on a 56-43 vote. Three Democrat Senators, Ben Nelson (NE), Blanche Lincoln (AR), and Mark Pryor (AR), voted against the measure. Hours later, the House approved the reconciliation bill, 220-207, with 32 Democrats voting against the abortion-funding legislation. No Republican in either chamber voted for the bill.

March 24, 2010

After President Obama signed the abortion funding health care bill into law at the White House yesterday, ceremonial pens used to sign the document were given to the President and 19 others instrumental to the bill’s passage. The only two people to receive pens who were neither Members of Congress nor White House officials were the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and the President of the Catholic Health Association, Sr. Carol Keehan.

Republicans in the House and Senate introduced legislation to repeal Obamacare. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the slogan supporting the legislation will be, “Repeal and Replace.”

In federal court, attorneys general from Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington joined to file suit against the health care bill, saying the new law is unconstitutional because Congress has no authority to force people to buy health insurance. Virginia filed its own lawsuit. 

March 23, 2010

President Obama today will sign the health care bill passed by the House Sunday night. Following the signing, the Senate will take up the health care reconciliation bill, also passed on Sunday night.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he hopes to have a final vote on the health care reconciliation bill by Friday or Saturday. Senate reconciliation rules, however, allow for 20 hours of debate on the measure and an unlimited number of amendments may be offered. Time spent debating an amendment does not count toward the 20-hour limit.

This week, in addition to amendments, Senate Republicans will offer several parliamentary challenges to the measure, arguing that its provisions violate the rules of the reconciliation process. Deciding the validity of these challenges will be the Senate parliamentarian. If the parliamentarian decides that even one provision of the bill violates the reconciliation rules, the legislation would have to be approved again by the House.

Meanwhile, at least nine states are planning legal challenges to the health care bill, saying its provision to require everyone in the country to either buy health insurance, pay a fine, or go to jail violates the Constitution. 

March 22, 2010

Pro-abortion health bills pass

A deal struck by Congressman Bart Stupak, the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama provided the deciding votes as the Senate health care bill and the accompanying reconciliation measure were approved by the House late Sunday. The Senate bill, passed by a 219-212 margin, is expected to be signed into law by President Obama this week. The reconciliation bill, which passed 220-211, now goes to the Senate.

Congressman Stupak and six members of his Democrat coalition gave their votes in exchange for an executive order from the President stating that the Hyde amendment banning the federal funding of abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother, applies to the health care bill. The order also states that Community Health Centers cannot perform abortions.

Mr. Stupak struck his deal against the advice of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and major pro-life groups. The National Right to Life Committee issued a statement declaring, “The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect…. It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill." Further highlighting the tenuous nature of the agreement is the fact that executive orders can be rescinded at the will of the President, or any future President, at any time.

Tellingly, no pro-abortion Congressman voted against the Senate bill because of the Stupak agreement. In fact, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), leader of the Pro-Choice Caucus, said she doesn’t have a problem with the executive order because “it doesn’t change anything.” Longtime pro-abortion Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said of the order, “If it satisfies some people, that’s fine.”

March 21, 2010

A vote on the abortion-subsidizing Senate health care bill will take place this afternoon amid last minute arm twisting as Speaker Nancy Pelosi scrambles to try to secure the 216 votes necessary for passage. Speaker Pelosi cut off talks with Congressman Bart Stupak Saturday on amending the Senate legislation when pro-abortion Representatives protested that they would vote against the bill if pro-life language were included through an accompanying resolution.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to Congressmen Saturday night calling for the defeat of the Senate bill today. They stressed that health care reform “must protect life and conscience, not threaten them.”

Text of Bishops’ Saturday night letter:  http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2010/10-051.shtml

Vote Schedule Today

The House Democrats on Saturday decided to drop the “deem and pass” plan whereby the Senate bill would have been adopted without Congressmen actually having voted on it. This means there will now be separate votes on the Senate bill (HR 3590) and the reconciliation bill (HR 4872).

The House will convene at 1:00 pm Eastern time and will spend at least an hour discussing the “rule” which will set forth the terms of Sunday’s debate. Following this discussion, the House will vote on whether to adopt the rule (H. Res. 1203). If the rule is not approved, no bill can be brought to the floor for consideration, so this will be an important, but not necessarily determinative moment.

If the rule passes, the House will then spend two hours debating the Senate bill and the reconciliation bill. According to the rule, after these two hours, the House will vote on the Senate bill first, then the reconciliation bill. A Republican motion to recommit the reconciliation bill will then be offered and voted upon.

There is no firm time schedule when the votes will occur, but they are expected to occur in the late afternoon today.

March 20, 2010

Déjà vu?

I
t’s not clear yet, but events late Friday indicated that there may be some movement toward allowing the House to vote on Congressman Bart Stupak’s pro-life amendment to the health care bill.

Congressman Stupak (D-MI), who will hold a press conference today, had what he termed a “good discussion” with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the House floor Friday about his legislative language to prevent abortion funding, although he stressed that no agreement had been reached. Congressman Stupak and nine other Democrat Representatives circulated a draft resolution yesterday that would add the Stupak amendment language to the Senate bill. If such a resolution were to pass the House, it would then have to be approved by the Senate and signed into law before the Senate could take up the reconciliation bill, meaning there would be no quick resolution to the health care debate as Democrats had hoped.

Of course, if Speaker Pelosi can muster 216 votes for the current Senate bill, the possible Stupak resolution becomes a moot point. The fact that the Speaker is even talking to Congressman Stupak, however, may be an indication that she does not yet have the votes to pass Obamacare.

Friday evening, leaders of the Pro-Choice Caucus were called to Speaker Pelosi’s office and, according to one report, left the emergency meeting “visibly angry.” Pro-abort Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) threatened that the health care bill would lose 40 to 55 votes if the Stupak language were to be adopted.

Other Complications

Democrats have been trying to eliminate any parts of the health care reconciliation bill that might be struck down in the Senate as violating the rules of the reconciliation process. By doing so, they hope to avoid having a second House vote on the measure if and when the Senate passes it.

One of the provisions eliminated, however, was one that over a dozen House Democrats had fought hard to protect regarding Medicare reimbursements to hospitals. As matters now stand, Congressmen whose states will be adversely affected by the deletion of this provision are threatening to vote against the health care bill. If the provision is reinstated, though, it may be struck down by a Senate parliamentary challenge because it affects Social Security revenues, a violation of reconciliation rules. Speaker Pelosi said attempts are being made to find language that will satisfy both the Congressmen and the Senate parliamentarian.

Meanwhile, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Friday that he knows of at least two parts of the reconciliation bill that are in violation of reconciliation rules and, as such, will be struck down by the upper chamber. In the Senate, parliamentary challenges can be made to the reconciliation bill and if the parliamentarian rules that a challenge is valid, 60 votes are needed to overcome the parliamentarian’s ruling. If 60 votes cannot be found, the challenged portion of the legislation must be deleted. Since the Democrat Caucus has 59 members, this means that the reconciliation bill may indeed have to return to the House for another vote if and when the Senate finishes with the measure. 

Health Care Legislative Update
March 19, 2010


Following the release of the Congressional Budget Office’s cost report on the “final” health care bill, House Democrats published the language of the long awaited reconciliation legislation (http://rules.house.gov/bills_details.aspx?NewsID=4606). As expected the measure makes no changes to the Senate measure’s pro-abortion components.

Democrats today will have the Senate parliamentarian examine the reconciliation bill to see if any of its provisions might be subject to Republican motions to strike language that fails to meet reconciliation requirements. If the parliamentarian finds such language, more amendments to the House reconciliation bill may need to be drafted before a vote can occur in the lower chamber.

As the situation stands, a House vote could occur no earlier than 2:00 pm Eastern time on Sunday. It’s believed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not call a vote unless she believes she either has the necessary 216 votes or is close enough that a few wavering Democrats can be persuaded to back Obamacare at the time of the vote. While Congressmen technically have 15 minutes to cast their votes, the voting period has been known to extend into hours while this type of “persuasion” takes place.

The consensus of observers is that, as of Thursday evening, Democrats do not have 216 votes for the health care bill. Reports indicate that the White House is targeting about 30 wavering Congressmen. President Obama, who has met or spoken with dozens of uncommitted Representatives since Monday, has cancelled a long planned Asian trip to stay in Washington and lobby.

March 18, 2010, Second Update

The House Rules Committee published the health care reconciliation bill today on the internet ( http://rules.house.gov/bills_details.aspx?NewsID=4606), setting in motion the 72-hour observation period for the measure. This means a final House vote on health care could occur after 2:00 pm Eastern time this Sunday. Whether or not the vote will happen likely depends on whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have secured the 216 votes necessary to pass Obamacare.

President Obama has cancelled his trip to Australia, Indonesia, and Guam which was originally scheduled to begin today and then was pushed back three days to Sunday. Speaker Pelosi said of the news, "This [vote] is historical. I'm sure he wants to be here for the history." Others suggest the President is staying in Washington, DC to pressure Democrat Congressmen to vote for his legislation.

March 18, 2010

As of Wednesday evening, the Congressional Budget Office had still not completed its cost estimate for the health care reconciliation bill. Given that the reconciliation bill’s language will not be released prior to the CBO’s report and that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to give Congressmen 72 hours to review the measure once it’s made public, a health care vote should not take place before Sunday at the earliest.

House and Senate Republicans will hold a joint meeting this morning to discuss Obamacare opposition strategy. Today may also see a vote on the resolution by Congressman Parker Griffith (R-AL) calling for an up or down vote (i.e., against a “self-executing” rule) on the health care bill.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released Wednesday found that only 36% of the public thinks the current health care bill is a “good idea” while 48% think it’s a “bad idea.” The latest Rasmussen Reports poll found that 43% supported the President’s health care plan and 53% opposed it. 

March 17, 2010

Most House Democrat leaders and the White House continue to say that a final health care vote is expected by the end of the week even though the legislation’s language has still not been released and the Congressional Budget Office has not completed its estimate on the bill’s cost. The one bit of official doubt came from House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) who, when asked Tuesday if a vote would happen before Easter Sunday, April 4, said, “The chances are good, but I wouldn’t bet on it.” Congressman Clyburn is in charge of counting votes for the Democrats.

Also on Tuesday, Pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) was asked on Fox News how many votes he thought the Democrats had for the Senate health care bill. He replied, “They need 216. I’d be surprised if they have 200.”

Meanwhile, on the House floor, Republicans excoriated the proposed plan of Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass the Senate health care bill without the House actually voting on it. The House Rules Committee may decide when it meets tomorrow whether it will adopt a “self-executing” rule for the Senate bill and its accompanying reconciliation measure. Under this proposal, the House would “deem” the Senate bill to have been passed when the reconciliation bill is approved. The reconciliation bill would then move to the Senate and the original Senate health care bill would go immediately to the White House to be signed into law by the President – before the Senate approves the reconciliation legislation.

To at least put Congressmen on record as to whether they favor the “self-executing” rule, also known as the “deem and pass” approach, Congressman Parker Griffith (R-AL) has introduced a resolution that would require an up or down vote on the Senate health care bill. The resolution likely could not pass in the Democrat-controlled House, but any vote on a motion to table the measure or send it to a committee would put Congressmen on record as to whether they favor Speaker Pelosi’s “deem and pass” plan.

March 16, 2010

After completing a caucus meeting Monday night, many House Democrats remained non-committal on the health care overhaul, with some complaining that they cannot make a decision when the final bill’s language has still not been released. Members are also waiting for the Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimate on the legislation, which might come today.

The House Budget Committee on Monday passed a “shell” bill that will later be gutted and replaced with the health care reconciliation measure’s language, once that language is finally ready. Monday’s 21-16 committee vote on the “shell” legislation was necessary to meet procedural requirements for the budget reconciliation process.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that she may invoke a seldom used tactic dubbed the “self executing rule” or “deem and pass” to move the Senate health bill through the House. According to this scenario, House members would not vote on the Senate bill. Instead, when the reconciliation bill that would amend the Senate measure is brought to the House floor, the rule for the reconciliation bill would declare that the Senate legislation has been “deemed” to have already passed.

House Republicans immediately challenged the constitutionality of such a scheme, citing a 1998 Supreme Court decision that upheld the Constitution’s requirement that the exact text of a bill must be passed by both the House and Senate. Speaker Pelosi, however, said she liked the tactic “because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill,” just the reconciliation measure.

Proponents of the Senate health care bill have been circulating an analysis of the legislation by Washington and Lee University School of Law Professor Timothy Stoltzfus Jost which claims that there are no “significant differences” between the House and Senate versions of health care with regard to abortion. Rebutting this conclusion and pointing out the many problems with the Senate health care bill is a statement issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Jost Analysis (PDF)‎

Response to Jose by the USCCB – http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/jost-response.pdf

March 15, 2010

President Obama has delayed the start of his Australian/Indonesian trip three days as part of the Democrats’ push to try to pass the Senate health care bill in the House. A vote on the measure could come this week, but anyone who has followed health care thus far knows that deadlines can be flexible.

Democrat vote counters say they do not have the 216 votes needed to pass the Senate bill at this time, but express optimism that they will. As of now, news reports indicate that a final House vote on the Senate bill could come sometime between Thursday and Saturday of this week. A Congressional Budget Office report on the cost of the new health care bill could be released today.

March 12, 2010

In a development that will make Obamacare even more difficult to pass in the House, the Senate Parliamentarian told Republican Senators yesterday that the House of Representatives must first pass and the President must sign the Senate’s version of health care reform before a reconciliation bill can be approved. House Democrats have been hoping to send the Senate’s legislation and the House-backed reconciliation measure to the President at the same time. According to statements from some liberal Democrats in the House, there is strong distrust in the lower chamber that the Senate would approve changes to its own bill once it’s been signed into law.

Meanwhile, statements by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) confirm that the Democrats will not make any effort to change the pro-abortion funding language in the Senate health care bill. Supporters of Obamacare admit that they do not have enough votes to pass the legislation at this time, but hope that when the final language is released, they will be able to sway Congressmen to vote for the reconciliation package.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised that House members will have a week to read the final bill once it’s finished. No one on Capitol Hill appears to expect that a vote will happen on health care before March 18, as the President had asked.

March 5, 2010

Health Care


Even as President Obama invited more House Democrats to the White House Thursday to persuade them to vote for a final health care bill, Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) appeared on Good Morning America to say that he and 11 other pro-life Democrats are “prepared to take responsibility” for bringing down Obamacare. Congressman Stupak said the pro-life Democrats were not going to “bypass the principles of belief that we feel strongly about.”

President Obama has asked the House to act on a health care bill before he leaves on an Asian trip March 18, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said yesterday that “the world doesn’t fall apart” if deadlines aren’t met. The Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimate on the new health care bill is not expected until the end of next week.

March 4, 2010

President Obama unveiled his final health care bill Wednesday at a White House media event where he called on Congress to pass the measure before the Easter recess begins on March 26. Meeting this deadline appears problematic. News reports note that the President’s bill will be evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office before Congress takes up the measure and the CBC could take several days or even weeks to estimate the cost of the legislation.

Meanwhile, Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) told MSNBC that there are at least 12 pro-life Democrat House members who voted for the first health care bill who will vote against the President’s plan as currently written. Congressman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) affirmed Wednesday that he is one of those Democrats.

The House health care bill containing the pro-life Stupak/Pitts amendment passed by a 220-215 margin. Four of the “yes” votes for that measure no longer exist because of resignations, a death, and a vote switch. This means that if 12 pro-life Democrats switch to “no” votes, President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi must persuade at least that many of the 39 Democrats who opposed the original House bill to now support the President’s legislation.

The Weekly Standard magazine reports that as part of this “persuasion offensive,” President Obama invited ten Democrat Congressman to the White House for dinner last night. All of the ten voted against the House health care bill last November, including Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT). Coincidentally, the White House announced yesterday that the brother of Congressman Matheson will be nominated to a federal judgeship on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

March 3, 2010

President Obama will finally release “his” bill today. The legislation is not expected to make any change in the Senate’s language authorizing taxpayer subsidies for abortion. The President is also expected to endorse the Congressional Democrats’ plan of having the House attempt to pass the Senate health care bill, then having both houses pass a “reconciliation” bill amending the Senate bill.

Democrats are apparently pushing to pass a health care bill before the end of the month. The top aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly said that the Democrat leadership in Congress doesn’t want to risk having members return to their districts for the Easter recess, hear from angry constituents, and then vote against Obamacare.

March 1, 2010

Speculation continues on the fate of Obamacare with some pundits saying that if a bill is to pass this year, it must pass before Congress’ scheduled recess on March 29. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said over the weekend that votes on a bill could happen within the month, but White House health advisor Nancy-Ann DeParle, when asked if Democrats had the votes to pass health care now, would not give a direct answer. The two chief obstacles to passage of the President’s legislation appear to be pro-life Democrats and Democrat Congressmen concerned about re-election.

President Obama is expected to make an announcement this week as to how he wants Congress to proceed. It’s widely expected that Democrats will pursue the long discussed “Plan B” – passage of the Senate bill in the House along with a second measure, using the budget reconciliation process, amending the Senate bill to make it more amendable to House Democrats. What hasn’t been decided is which chamber will make the first move.

February 26, 2010

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) addressed abortion funding at yesterday’s health care “summit,” saying that the President’s legislation would cause taxpayers to fund abortions for the first time in 30 years. President Obama did not address abortion funding directly, but criticized Congressman Boehner for bringing up “talking points.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in her closing statement at the meeting, falsely claimed that there was no abortion funding in the bills they’d been discussing.

Democrats will now reportedly proceed with trying to pass health care legislation through the budget reconciliation process, which bars filibusters and, thus, eliminates the need for 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate.

February 24, 2010

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said yesterday that they would attend the President’s health care “summit” on Thursday, but did not expect much to come of the event. Congressman Boehner called the meeting a “charade” and said the Democrats wanted Republicans to boycott it so that “we won’t be a thorn in their sides on issues like jobs and abortion.”

Meanwhile, Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) issued a statement calling the President’s health care bill “unacceptable” because it includes the Senate’s language providing taxpayer subsidies for abortion.

February 22, 2010

President Obama’s just-released health care reform legislation would provide even more taxpayer funding of abortion than the Senate bill according to the National Right to Life Committee. An NRLC press release today notes that, prior to the latest version of Obamacare, the Senate bill was already “the most expansively pro-abortion bill ever brought to the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade.”

Not only would the President’s new bill keep the Senate’s abortion subsidizing provisions, says the NRLC, it would also increase the direct funding of abortion through Community Health Centers and private health care plans.

In a statement on the President’s new proposal, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) expressed his opposition to the measure, saying, “Health care reform should be an opportunity to protect human life — not end it — and the American people agree.” Congressman Boehner still has not said whether he will participate in the President’s health care “summit” this Thursday, but did add today that the new Obama measure “has crippled the credibility of this week’s summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected.”

The latest Rasmussen Reports poll on the subject backs up Congressman Boehner’s statement. According to Rasmussen, 61% of Americans think Congress should scrap all of its health care bills and start over, while only 28% say it should continue to build on what it’s been working on, as the President’s bill does. Only 35% of the public believes Congress should pass any health care legislation before the November elections.

NRLC press release on new Obama bill –
http://www.nrlc.org/press_releases_new/Release022210.html

Rasmussen Reports health care poll –
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/september_2009/health_care_reform

February 19, 2010

News reports indicate that the White House will post its own health care bill on the internet by this coming Monday morning, days before the proposed February 25 legislative “summit.” The President’s bill has been drafted in consultation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but its contents have not been revealed to other Democrat Congressmen or Senators.

House and Senate Republicans, who have been completely shut out of the drafting process, are still calling for Congress to scrap existing plans and start over on legislation. Congressional GOP leaders have yet to state whether they will attend next Thursday’s “summit,” with one aide expressing concern that the event will not be a serious give and take, but rather an “infomercial” for Obamacare.

House Democrats are scheduled to meet Monday evening to consider the President’s proposal. Since the President’s bill is expected to be a measure designed for the budget reconciliation process, it will likely leave intact the Senate’s provision for federally subsidized abortion.

February 15, 2010

The White House on Friday issued its formal “health care summit” invitation to Congressional leaders. The proposed February 25 meeting would feature an opening statement from President Obama followed by presentations by a Democrat and Republican Senator or Congressman on four topics: insurance reforms; cost containment; increasing coverage for the currently uninsured; and the impact of reform on the deficit. Up to 40 Senators and/or Congressman would attend the summit.

The White House also stated in the invitation that it will post its health care reform bill on the internet no later than February 21. House Republicans warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Friday that a pre-negotiated deal on legislation between the White House and Congressional Democrats would make a “mockery” of the summit.

February 11, 2010

While President Obama claims to want an open discussion on health care during a February 25 “summit” with Republicans, news reports indicate that Democrats have already decided on a strategy to try to pass a version of Obamacare that includes abortion funding. It’s “Plan B” with a twist.

The top health care aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a speech Tuesday that the strategy is for the Senate first to pass legislation that amends the health care bill that it already adopted. This amending measure, which would make the Senate bill palatable to House Democrats, would be adopted under the budget reconciliation process whereby only 51 votes would be needed instead of the usual 60 required to end debates in the Senate.

Once the Senate approved the reconciliation bill, House Democrats would then pass the measure. Once the reconciliation bill cleared both houses of Congress, the House would then go back and approve the original Senate bill. In short, Congress would first pass a bill amending a “law” that didn’t exist. The Pelosi aide said the “trick” would be to get the President to sign the bills in the reverse order of their passage. Democrats would like to complete the process before Easter.

The plan begs the question, if Democrats have already decided what the content of health care reform will be and how they will pass it without any Republican votes, what is the purpose of President Obama’s “summit” on the 25th?

February 9, 2010

In a letter to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that if President Obama wants to use the February 25 health care summit merely to push for a version of the existing House and Senate bills, House Republicans might not participate in the event. They wrote, “’Bipartisanship’ is not writing proposals of your own behind closed doors, then unveiling them and demanding Republican support. Bipartisan ends require bipartisan means."

February 8, 2010

President Obama on Sunday invited Republicans to join him in a half-day televised “summit” on health care proposals February 25. The President’s aides say he will not be starting over on health care, but will instead come to the meeting with a health care bill cobbled together from the House and Senate health measures. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that GOP will come to the meeting with its own proposals for reform, which Cong. Boehner gave to the President weeks ago.

February 5, 2010

President Obama said in a speech Thursday night that “we should take our time” with a final health care bill. While he still wants a final vote on Obamacare, he says a jobs bill will take priority in Congress. A White House meeting was held yesterday between the President, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, but reports indicate that no decisions were reached on how to proceed with health care legislation.

February 2, 2010

2011 Budget

On Monday, the President released his budget for Fiscal Year 2011. It retains the Hyde amendment, which restricts the use of funds appropriated through the Labor, Health, and Human Services spending bill for abortion, as well as the Smith amendment, which similarly limits abortion coverage in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.

The President’s budget does, however, propose eliminating restrictions on federal money given to the United Nations Population Fund, thus permitting taxpayer dollars to be used for China’s one-child policy. It would also continue the policy, begun last year, of allowing publicly funded abortions in the District of Columbia. Funding for Title X family planning programs, a good portion of which goes to Planned Parenthood, would be increased by $10 million to over $327 million.

Health care

While Obamacare remains at a standstill in Congress, at least 29 state legislatures are considering bills prompted by the President’s attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

Yesterday, the Democrat controlled Virginia Senate voted 23-17 to pass a bill that would make it illegal to require citizens to purchase health insurance, a direct rebuke of a key component of the bills pending in Congress. The measure is expected to pass the Republican controlled Virginia House and be signed into law by new Governor Bob McDonnell. Supporters of the measure say it could be used as groundwork for a potential lawsuit against the federal government should Obamacare ever be enacted.

January 29, 2010

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the press Thursday that the House is waiting for the Senate to decide on how it will proceed on a major health care overhaul. She also said that she was considering separating out smaller parts of the health care measure and passing them as individual bills in the House.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met with advisors and Senate Committee Chairmen Thursday, but did not reach any decision on how to move forward with health care. He said at a press conference that he was still intent on passing a bill “this year.”

January 28, 2010

I
n his State of the Union speech Wednesday night, President Obama urged Congress to “not run for the hills,” but offered no clear plan on how to advance his health care proposal.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters before the President’s speech that she is still working toward having the House pass the Senate health care bill, with a “reconciliation” measure amending the Senate legislation as part of the deal. House and Senate negotiators, however, have not reached an accord on what should be amended in the Senate bill. The changes Speaker Pelosi wants would reportedly add $300 billion to the cost of the legislation.

Conservative Republicans, led by Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (MN), announced a Declaration of Health Care Independence. Described as a “roadmap” rather than legislation, the Declaration includes a prohibition against funding abortion.

January 27, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remain undecided on how to proceed with Obamacare. Senator Reid proclaimed yesterday, “There is no rush [on health care legislation].”

News reports indicate a decision on Obamacare may not come until next week, perhaps much later. Enthusiasm for the “Plan B” option, whereby the House would approve the Senate health care bill after a separate bill amending the Senate bill had passed both houses using the budget reconciliation process, appeared to wane Tuesday. The plan drew criticism from Democrat Congressmen and Senators, particularly those up for re-election in November.

Meanwhile, reports say President Obama is not expected to make specific recommendations on how to proceed with health care legislation in his State of the Union speech tonight.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll released yesterday shows that only 30% of the public believes Congress should pass a health care bill similar to what it has been considering while 48% say Congress should start over on a new bill and 21% say Congress should just stop working on health care.

January 26, 2010

News reports indicate that the Senate and House Democrat leadership still believe that “Plan B” is their best chance for passing Obamacare. Scaling back the proposed health care overhaul does not appear to be a consideration at this point.

Plan B would have the House pass the Senate health care bill, complete with its federal subsidies for abortion, and then introduce a second bill in the House through the budget reconciliation process. The second bill would “correct” the parts of the Senate measure that House members don’t like and would only need 51 votes in the Senate to be approved. Democrat leaders will reportedly take this plan to the rank and file this week. Right now, however, there apparently are not sufficient votes in the House to make the proposal viable.

An announcement regarding President Obama’s recommendation for proceeding on health care may come during his State of the Union speech tomorrow night.

January 22, 2010

Saying, “I don’t see the votes for it at this time,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced yesterday that “Plan B” for Obamacare is, in effect, dead. The White House and the Democrat leadership had hoped to have the House adopt the Senate health care bill without amendment and then send the measure to the White House for the President’s signature. With regard to a “Plan C,” Speaker Pelosi added, “Everything is on the table.”

Democrats are expected to meet through the weekend to plan strategy. Among the options under consideration are using the budget reconciliation process (aka the “nuclear option”), which would enable the Democrats to pass budget related portions of Obamacare with only 51 votes in the Senate, and creating a new, scaled down bill that would include fewer provisions than the current House and Senate measures.

January 21, 2010

The White House is reportedly still pursuing what has been called "Plan B" for Obamacare, having the House pass the Senate’s version of the health care bill so that the Senate does not have to vote on the legislation again. This strategy, however, is not meeting with approval from some Congressmen.

Pro-life Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) said on Fox Business Network Tuesday, "Plan B is dead." He added that if the Senate bill were brought before the House it "would not get 100 votes." Other Democrats are talking about possibly scaling back the health care bill, with the idea of passing a series of limited bills over time. It appears that the goal of passing a health care bill before the President’s State of the Union speech on January 27 may no longer be viable.

January 20, 2010

The victory of Republican Scott Brown in Tuesday’s Massachusetts special election has thrown the fate of Obamacare way up in the air. Procedural options are still available to pass the measure (e.g., have the House pass the Senate bill, then have the Senate “fix” the parts of the bill that the House doesn’t like with new legislation later), but there is doubt that rank and file Democrats have the political will to push the bill through.

Democrat leaders met late into the night Tuesday, but did not reach any decisions on how to proceed with their health care overhaul. While they were meeting, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) issued a statement calling on the Senate to suspend any votes on the health care bill until Senator-elect Brown is seated. Webb’s statement also took a verbal swipe at the lack of openness that has characterized the health care bill’s development.

Senate Democrats are scheduled to meet today to discuss their options

January 19, 2010

The fate of Obamacare may hang on today’s special election in Massachusetts to fill the Senate seat once held by the late Ted Kennedy. Democrats are said to be weighing contingency plans should the Republican opponent of the health care overhaul bill, Scott Brown, be elected.

News reports indicate that the House may be asked to pass without amendment the Senate’s version of health care, thus eliminating the need to send the bill back to the Senate where Democrats would no longer have a filibuster-proof 60 votes. Pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) said yesterday, though, that the House has no interest in rubber stamping the Senate bill, which would federally subsidize abortion on demand.

January 18, 2010

The New York Times is reporting that Democrats are making “contingency plans” in case Republican Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate seat at stake in Tuesday’s special election. State Senator Brown has vowed to oppose the Democrats’ health care bill in Congress, meaning that Republicans would have 41 votes, enough to filibuster the legislation successfully.

The “contingency plans” could involve passing the health care bill in the days before Mr. Brown could be sworn in. They could also involve the budget reconciliation process, by which the Senate could pass the parts of the health care bill that pertain to the national budget by a simple majority vote of 51. It’s not clear, though, how much of the health care bill could be included in a “budget” bill.

Negotiations on the abortion funding language in the final health care bill are expected to start tomorrow.

January 14, 2010

President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, and nine Democrat committee chairmen met for over eight hours yesterday at the White House trying to iron out compromises between the House and Senate health care bills. The New York Times reports that little time was spent discussing abortion funding during the closed door meetings. Bargaining on the legislation is expected to last into next week, at least.

News reports speculate that the unusually long day of negotiations is an indication that Democrats feel added urgency to finalize a health care bill. Their new concern is that the Republican candidate in Massachusetts’ January 19 Senatorial special election may win what pollsters say is a very close race. That candidate, State Senator Scott Brown, has vowed to oppose Obamacare and would give Republicans enough votes to maintain a filibuster against the legislation.

January 13, 2010

President Obama today will again host Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and other Democrat leaders at the White House for negotiations on the compromise health care bill. House, Senate, and White House staff members will also continue to meet behind closed doors doing the actual drafting of the legislation.

Pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) repeated Tuesday that there are ten to 12 Congressmen who will switch their health care votes from “yes” to “no” if the final health care bill contains the Senate’s abortion funding language. Congressman Stupak added that he thought it would be difficult for the House leadership to persuade Democrats to switch their votes from “no” to “yes” because the health care bill is going over like “a lead balloon” with the American public.

January 12, 2010

The House of Representatives officially resumes business today, with the Senate still a week away from returning from the Christmas recess. Behind-the-scenes negotiations on the Obama-Reid-Pelosi health care bill are continuing.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent bulletin inserts and pulpit announcements to all of the nation’s 19,000 parishes asking that people contact Congressmen and Senators to urge that the Stupak/Pitts abortion funding restriction be included in any final health care bill. The announcements stress that any legislation without the Stupak/Pitts language must be opposed.

The National Right to Life Committee has sent a letter to Congressmen giving six clear reasons why the House bill with the Stupak/Pitts amendment meets minimum pro-life policy requirements and the Senate bill does not.

USCCB Bulletin Insert: http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/UPDATED-bulletin-insert.pdf

USCCB Pulpit Announcement: http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/Abortion_ads/Pulpit_Announcement_and_Prayer.pdf

NRTL Letter: http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/HouseLetteronAbortionProvisions.pdf

January 8, 2010

Depending on press reports, anywhere from 100 to 175 of the 256 Democrats in the House participated in a conference call yesterday to discuss the health care bill currently being drafted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and the White House. The call was ostensibly designed so that House leadership could hear the concerns of its caucus on matters currently being debated in the secret negotiations. Reportedly, no final decisions on the content of the revised health care bill have been made yet.

January 7, 2010

Following two days of House-Senate-White House negotiations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Democrats were close to devising a merged health care bill, but she did not address the question of abortion funding. The full House Democrat Caucus will take part in a conference call today to discuss legislative strategy.

Pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI), in a New York Times profile, again said that he and 10 or 11 other pro-life Congressmen who voted for the House version of health care reform would oppose any language in revised legislation that does not truly prohibit abortion funding. A switch of only three votes could kill the health care bill in the House.

January 6, 2010

Democrat leaders in Congress will go to the White House this afternoon for a second health care strategy meeting in as many days. At yesterday’s meeting, Democrats agreed to draft a revised overhaul of the health care system behind closed doors, eliminating the possibility of a conference committee. According to news reports, the plan is for the House to take up consideration of the Senate bill, amend it, and send it back to the Senate for a final vote.

January 5, 2010

According to numerous press reports quoting Democrat “officials,” there will be no formal conference committee to create a unified version of the House and Senate health care bills. Instead, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and the White House will devise privately what they hope will be language that both the House and Senate will approve. President Obama is hosting the first negotiation/discussion meeting this evening at the White House with Speaker Pelosi attending in person and Senator Reid, who is out of town, participating by phone.

In this non-traditional approach, Republicans will be completely shut out of the process of crafting a House-Senate compromise. In addition, negotiations will be completely behind the scenes, avoiding the open and public bargaining that would occur under the conference committee approach.

Technically, then, what will likely happen is that the House or Senate will take up the other body’s legislation and seek to amend it, with the amendment consisting of the changes devised in the secret Pelosi-Reid-White House negotiations. Once passed, the health care overhaul measure would then be sent to the other legislative body for approval.

If both the House and Senate pass the same bill with the Pelosi-Reid-White House language, it would then go to President Obama for his signature. If they don’t pass the same bill, the legislation would keep bouncing back and forth between the two bodies in what is being called “legislative ping pong” until both pass the same measure. The other alternative, of course, would be for the House or Senate to refuse to pass the other’s bill and for negotiations to reach an impasse, in which case the health care overhaul would die.

December 31, 2009

Formal action to combine the House and Senate health care bills should resume when both legislative bodies return from the Christmas/New Year recess. The House is scheduled to go back into session on January 12; the Senate on January 19.

December 28, 2009

As expected, the Senate voted 60-39 early Christmas Eve morning to pass the Reid health care bill. Democrat leaders in the House and Senate will now work to write a bill that could pass both the House and Senate. Press reports indicate that Democrats will try to work out a compromise measure privately and informally before resorting to a Conference Committee.

The White House wants both houses to pass a health care overhaul bill before President Obama delivers his as yet unscheduled State of the Union speech in late January or early February.

December 23, 2009

Following the second successful procedural vote on the Reid health care bill Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to move up the final vote on the measure to 8:00 am on Christmas Eve, 11 hours earlier than previously scheduled. This will allow Senators to leave town before a predicted snow storm hits the Washington, DC area.

On the House side, Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) told CNS News (http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/58921) that he and fellow pro-life Democrats have been pressured by House leadership and the White House not to comment on the abortion funding language in the Senate bill. He said, though, that he and his colleagues will not cave on keeping abortion funding out of the health care bill, stating, “We are not just going to abandon [principle] in the name of health care."

December 22, 2009

The second of three procedural votes on the Reid health care bill was scheduled to take place at 7:00 am this morning in the Senate. The Reid measure is still on track for a final up-or-down vote on Christmas Eve night.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement opposing the Reid bill’s latest version that includes the Nelson abortion funding language. It’s available at http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2009/09-264.shtml.

December 21, 2009

The Senate voted 60-40 shortly after 1:00 AM Eastern time this morning to end debate on the “manager’s amendment” to the Reid health care bill, paving the way for the bill’s passage. The straight party line vote is expected to be repeated in procedural votes Tuesday and Wednesday, with final approval of the legislation expected after 7:00 PM on Thursday, Christmas Eve.

The vote was made possible by the actions of Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) who, despite prior statements, accepted abortion funding language that falls far short of the restrictions found in the House bill’s Stupak/Pitts amendment. Nelson reached his accord, which included $100 million in Medicaid subsidies for Nebraska and tax breaks for non-profit Nebraska insurance companies, with pro-abortion Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NE).

Pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) said in a statement that the new Senate abortion funding language is “unacceptable.” Nebraska Right to Life said in a press release that Senator Nelson “betrayed” pro-lifers, while National Right to Life wrote that the Nelson language was “light years removed” from the Stupak/Pitts amendment. NRTL’s full statement on the new Senate bill is available at http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/NRLConReidManagersAmend.html.

December 18, 2009

The Senate is spending the day working on the Defense Department appropriations bill, after which it is expected to return to the Reid health care bill. If the Democrats wish to pass a health care bill before Christmas, they must act quickly. Due to procedural rules, if Majority Leader Harry Reid introduces his bill by 1:00 am tomorrow, the soonest a final vote on the measure could take place would be 7:00 pm on Thursday, Christmas Eve.

One of the problems for Sen. Reid is that he does not have 60 votes for his health care measure. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) remains opposed to the abortion funding language in the Reid bill and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has voiced opposition to the legislation’s lack of a public option for health insurance. Due to united Republican opposition to the Reid bill, Democrats need both Nelson and Sanders to vote for the bill in order for it to pass.

December 17, 2009

Pro-life Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) said today that an amendment drafted by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) was not sufficient to cause him to support the Reid health care bill. The amendment, intended as a compromise abortion measure to gain Nelson’s backing of the Reid bill, did not address the fundamental question of abortion funding, according to Richard Doerflinger of the Bishops’ Conference.

Senator Nelson’s opposition to the Senate health care bill means that the Democrats still do not have the 60 votes necessary to move the legislation forward.

December 16, 2009

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) yesterday gave reporters a tentative timeline for his health care bill that set the date of a final vote on the measure as either December 23rd or 24th. The first crucial procedural vote could come as early as late this week, though. Democrats acknowledge that they still do not have the necessary 60 votes for the bill, with pro-life Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) now the only known holdout. Senator Nelson is holding firm to his commitment that the bill not fund abortions.

Meanwhile, on the House side, liberals expressed dismay at the Senate’s decision to jettison the “public option” and Medicare expansion from its legislation. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the House would not accept the Senate bill without modifications. Former Democrat party chairman Howard Dean said that “the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill.”

December 15, 2009

Senate Democrats have been summoned to the White House this afternoon in what the President is hoping will be a unity event in support of the Reid health care bill. The Democrats met behind closed doors Monday to try to find ways to get all 60 members of their caucus to support the measure. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to continue meeting today with Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), who is the one pro-life Democrat standing firm for a true abortion funding prohibition in the bill.

December 14, 2009

Health Care

Pro-life Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) reiterated his position Sunday that he will not support passage of the Reid health care bill if it does not contain a true ban on abortion funding. Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly is continuing to meet with pro-abortion Senators to find “compromise” abortion funding language, but Senator Nelson has repeatedly expressed his skepticism that any sort of compromise can be found.

Senator Reid’s search for 60 votes for his health care bill became even more difficult yesterday when pro-abortion Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) declared on national television and reportedly in a private conversation with Senator Reid that he cannot support the health care bill as presently written. Senator Lieberman’s objections are not related to abortion.

December 11, 2009

Health Care

While Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) waits for the Congressional Budget Office to offer a cost estimate on the still unreleased “public option” compromise devised by ten Democrat Senators behind closed doors, work on the health care bill remains on hold. A new Quinnipiac poll shows public support for the health insurance overhaul effort at a new low, with only 38% of voters approving and 52% disapproving.

December 9, 2009

Health Care Bill

While the Senate voted Tuesday to end consideration of the Nelson/Hatch amendment that would have barred the use of federal funds for abortion in the Reid health care bill, debate on abortion in the health care overhaul measure is far from over.

Even if the Senate passes the Reid bill without the Nelson/Hatch language, members of the House and Senate would still have to come up with a compromise bill that would then need approval from the House and Senate again. If pro-life Congressmen and/or pro-life Senator Ben Nelson stand their ground, it’s possible that real abortion funding restrictions could be included in a final health care measure.

December 8, 2009, Evening

The Senate this voted 54-45 to table the Nelson/Hatch amendment late this afternoon, meaning that the amendment was defeated. Majority Leader Harry Reid, who calls himself pro-life, spoke and voted in favor of tabling the amendment that would have stopped the federal funding of abortion that Senator Reid’s bill allows.

All Republicans supported the Nelson/Hatch amendment by voting “no” on the motion to table except Senators Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME); all Democrats voted to kill the amendment except Senators Ben Nelson (NE), Bob Casey (PA), Kent Conrad (ND), Byron Dorgan (ND), Evan Bayh (IN), Ted Kaufman (DE), and Mark Pryor (AR). Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) did not vote.

December 7, 2009

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) will likely introduce the Senate version of the Stupak amendment today. The amendment, which would prevent federal funding of abortion in the health care overhaul bill, has been endorsed by National Right to Life. Senator Nelson said over the weekend that he does not expect a vote on the amendment before tomorrow.

Link to NRTL’s Action Alert on the Hatch/Nelson amendment: http://www.capwiz.com/nrlc/issues/alert/?alertid=13157881

December 4, 2009

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters yesterday that he will move to end debate and bring to a vote the Senate health care bill as soon as he has 60 votes lined up to support the measure. When asked when that might be, Senator Reid said, “Soon,” but at least four Democrats have not made commitments yet. In the meantime, he will keep the Senate in session this Saturday and Sunday.

One vote that may be hard to line up is Senator Ben Nelson’s (D-NE). Senator Nelson may introduce an amendment based on the House’s Stupak/Pitts amendment banning federal funding of abortion in the new health care system. Some reports say the Nelson amendment could be introduced today while others say next week is more likely. Senator Nelson again told the press on Thursday that if his amendment fails, he would not support the Reid health care bill.

December 3, 2009

While Senators still have not cast their first vote on amendments introduced Monday to the Reid health care bill, Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) announced Wednesday that he will introduce an amendment that contains the Stupak/Pitts abortion funding language found in the House health care measure. According to news reports, the Nelson amendment may be introduced as soon as today.

In addition, Senator Nelson declared that unless the Senate bill includes the same abortion funding restrictions found in the Stupak/Pitts amendment, he will not vote for its final passage.

December 2, 2009

The Reid health care bill has been under consideration for two days and it’s already one day behind schedule. Senators were supposed to cast their first votes yesterday on amendments by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and John McCain (R-AZ). Those votes are now scheduled for today.

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) said Tuesday that he will introduce an amendment to eliminate abortion funding from the Reid bill, using language similar to the Stupak/Pitts amendment in the House health care measure. The Nelson amendment may be brought to the Senate floor late this week.

December 1, 2009

Although no votes were taken, the first of alternating Democrat and Republican amendments to the Reid health care bill were offered yesterday. Neither amendment, one offered by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and the other by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), deals with abortion. The Senate will continue to propose and vote on a great many amendments in the coming weeks. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who hopes to have a final vote on his bill before Christmas, has urged the other 59 members of the Democrat caucus to offer only one amendment each. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants at least six weeks to consider the legislation.

November 30, 2009

Full Senate consideration of the Reid health care bill officially begins today with opening statements by both Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Alternating Democrat and Republican amendments will begin to be offered tomorrow in a debate that’s expected to take several weeks.

The Senate does not have the debate restrictions that the House has, so it’s not known how many amendments will be offered or how long the discussions of those amendments will take. At some point, Majority Leader Reid will decide to call an end to debate and ask for a cloture vote. At that time, 60 Senators will have to agree to end debate; if they do, a separate vote to pass or not pass the bill will follow.

Reportedly, Senator Reid has told Senate offices to expect to work evenings and weekends until the end of December, by which time he hopes to have passed a bill.

November 23, 2009

The Senate voted 60-39 on Saturday night to begin debate on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care bill. The vote went along straight party lines, with one Republican, Senator George Voinovich (OH), absent. A few Senators, including Democrats Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Blanche Lincoln (AR), said that while they voted to proceed with debate on the Reid bill, they have not made up their minds on whether to support final passage.

The Senate, which is off this week for Thanksgiving recess, will begin consideration of the Reid bill on Monday, November 30.

November 20, 2009

Health care


With a Saturday night vote scheduled to determine if Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care bill will be brought to the Senate floor for debate, Senator Reid would not say yesterday whether he has secured the necessary 60 votes to be successful.

Pro-life Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE), in a not too thinly veiled plea to his fellow Nebraska colleague, Senator Ben Nelson, asked for a pro-life Democrat Senator to step up and be the one Democrat vote needed to send the pro-abortion bill back to the drawing board. Senator Nelson said yesterday that he would not support the Reid bill, as currently written, for final passage, but he has not indicated how he will vote Saturday night.

Also Thursday, the spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Richard Doerflinger, said that the Reid bill "is actually the worst bill we've seen so far on the life issues." He called the measure “completely unacceptable” and added, “to say this reflects current law is ridiculous."

November 19, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) finally revealed his health care bill to the public Wednesday. The bill, written with the help of White House aides, does not contain the Stupak/Pitts amendment’s language barring the use of taxpayer money for abortions.

Under the Reid legislation, taxpayer money would pay for abortions in the government run “public option” insurance plan and government subsidies would be used for private plans that cover abortion. The bill has already been endorsed by pro-abortion Senators such as Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who said she “couldn’t be happier” with the legislation’s language.

A complete copy of the 2,074-page measure is available here. The abortion related provisions are on pages 116 through 124.

Senator Reid would not say Wednesday night whether he had secured the 60 votes needed to bring his legislation to the Senate floor. Reportedly, two or three Democrat Senators had not yet agreed to support a procedural vote to begin debate on the measure.

November 18, 2009

Health Care Overhaul

Pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) told Fox News yesterday that if President Obama or anyone else removes the Stupak/Pitts amendment from the health care reform bill, “health care will not move forward.” Congressman Stupak said there are “10 to 15 to 20” Democrat Congressmen who will switch their votes from yes to no if the amendment is not in the final version of the legislation. The first health care bill passed the House by five votes, meaning a switch of only three votes could defeat a bill sent back to the lower chamber by a conference committee.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is now hoping to bring his health care overhaul bill to the floor this Friday or Saturday. He said Tuesday that he is “cautiously optimistic” that he has the 60 votes necessary to begin debate on the measure.

Hamilton Nomination

The Senate voted 70-29 on Tuesday to consider the nomination of pro-abortion Judge David Hamilton to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Needing only a majority to win approval, Hamilton is expected to be confirmed.

November 17, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) now hopes to bring his version of a health care overhaul bill to the Senate floor this Friday. He will need 60 votes to overcome an expected Republican filibuster against bringing the bill up for consideration.

If and when the Reid bill reaches the Senate floor, pro-life Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) will ask that the entire piece of legislation be read by the Senate clerk. As long as a Republican Senator remains on the floor to object if Senator Reid asks for unanimous consent to dispense with the reading, every page of the bill must be read. It could take several days, at least allowing Senators some time to find out what’s in the legislation.

November 16, 2009

Health Care Overhaul

Presidential advisor David Axelrod said yesterday that President Obama “cannot abide” the Stupak/Pitts pro-life amendment being in the health care bill. Axelrod did not state with any specificity what the President would do about his feelings.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) remarked to Fox News Sunday that the Senate will be deliberating the health care overhaul bill for many weeks. He predicted, “This will be on the floor for quite a long time. I think it ought to be on the floor at least as long as it's been in [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid's office."

Senator Reid (D-NV) has been working on his version of a health care bill since the Finance Committee passed its version on October 13. At that time, Senator Reid said he wanted to bring his bill to the floor the week of October 26. He said last week that he wants to introduce it this week.

November 13, 2009

Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) told The Tennessean newspaper Thursday that “health reform, despite the House vote, is still on life support." Congressman Cooper, who voted for the Stupak/Pitts amendment and for the Pelosi health care bill, said that it will be hard for the Senate to pass a bill given that Democrats will have to hold together 60 votes to overcome any Republican filibuster.

Both Houses of Congress are expected to return from the Veterans Day recess on Monday.

November 12, 2009

Hamilton Nomination

The Senate will take up the nomination of federal district judge David Hamilton to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals next week. Judge Hamilton is known for his pro-abortion rulings that kept Indiana’s informed consent for abortion statute from being enforced for seven years. In fact, the 7th Circuit Court, in overturning one of Hamilton’s rulings, went out of its way to criticize him for being the only federal judge in the country to hold a law such as Indiana’s invalid after the Supreme Court’s Casey decision upheld a similar measure.

Health Care

Pro-abortion advocates either had meetings or planned meetings yesterday to plot the defeat of the Stupak/Pitts amendment in the Senate and removal of the amendment from any final health care bill.

Leaders from 12 groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL met with top administration officials such as Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes for what one participant termed a “frank exchange” on the Stupak/Pitts amendment. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood met with 80 other liberal groups to plot abortion strategy for the Senate health care bill. Finally, members of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus requested a meeting with President Obama next week on abortion funding in the health care overhaul measure.

November 11, 2009

Still waiting for cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office on the various versions of health care overhaul bills he submitted for review, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) yesterday put his health care bill on the Senate calendar, meaning he could introduce it as soon as next Tuesday. He said that he expected to have a final vote on the bill by Christmas, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated yesterday that he expected debate on the measure to last at least a month.

In the event that the Senate passes a bill that differs at all from the House bill, a conference committee consisting of members from the House and Senate would meet to work out a compromise measure. This compromise legislation would then have to be approved again by both chambers. It’s during the conference committee process that pro-aborts hope to remove the Stupak/Pitts amendment from the health care bill.

While pro-abortion Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) has promised a “firestorm” to delete the Stupak/Pitts amendment, pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) has said there will be “hell to pay” if the Democrat House leadership does delete it.

November 10, 2009

Responding to complaints from pro-abortion groups about the Stupak/Pitts amendment, President Barack Obama told ABC News Monday that he wants to change the House health care bill’s abortion language so that “neither side feels that it’s being betrayed.” He added, “I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test — that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices.”

In the Senate, the House’s passage of the Stupak/Pitts amendment is already causing speculation that the health care bill may be even more difficult to pass than previously thought. Pro-life Senator Ben Nelson (NE) said Monday that he would not vote for a bill that did not contain strong language prohibiting abortion funding, such as the Stupak/Pitts amendment. Due to the threat of a Republican filibuster, Democrats need to keep all 60 members of their caucus on board. The loss of even one Senator, such as Senator Nelson, could kill the health care overhaul legislation.

The Senate is scheduled to begin its Veterans Day recess tonight and will reconvene Monday.

November 9, 2009

Following the House’s passage of HR 3962, the Pelosi health care bill that included the Stupak/Pitts amendment barring taxpayer funding of abortion, at least 40 pro-abortion Members of Congress are now vowing to oppose a final bill if it includes the Stupak/Pitts language.

The Senate, meanwhile, is still awaiting the release of a health care bill by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). The White House is pressuring the Senate to complete work on legislation before the Christmas break, wanting to avoid a repeat of the August recess when Senators and Congressmen returned home to face negative public reaction to the health care overhaul.

The Senate bill is expected to be different from the House measure, with Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) already saying that HR 3962 was “dead on arrival.” Reports indicate, though, that Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Bob Casey (D-PA) will try to add the Stupak/Pitts amendment to whatever Senate bill emerges.

Evening of November 7, 2009

T
he House of Representatives voted 240-194 tonight to adopt the Stupak/Pitts amendment to HR 3962, the Pelosi health care bill. The amendment, which had the support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and pro-life groups, basically applies the Hyde amendment to the health care bill, thereby preventing the use of taxpayer funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is endangered. Sixty-four Democrats joined 176 Republicans in voting for the amendment.

The House later passed the amended version of HR 3962 by a 220-215 vote. The House will now wait for the Senate to pass its version of a health care overhaul bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is said to be hoping for a vote in the Senate before Christmas. If and when the Senate passes a bill, a Conference Committee would take the House and Senate versions and create a compromise measure, which then would have to be approved again by the House and Senate

November 6, 2009

As a weekend vote on the rule to bring the Pelosi health care bill to the House floor approaches, the Rules Committee will meet today to determine what that rule will say. It’s expected that the “Ellsworth amendment,” which analysts say will do nothing to stop taxpayer funding of abortion and which has won the approval of pro-abortion Members of Congress, will be incorporated into the Pelosi bill by the Rules Committee.

President Obama was expected to go to Capitol Hill today to put pressure on Democrats to vote for the Pelosi measure. His lobbying effort has reportedly been postponed until Saturday morning due to the shootings at Ft. Hood.

Reports indicate that there are 25 “hard no” Democrat votes on the Pelosi bill. If 16 more Democrats join them, Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be forced to either withdraw the measure or allow a vote on the Stupak/Pitts amendment to bar taxpayer dollars from being used for abortion. It’s still projected that a vote could come late Saturday or early Sunday and that the vote is too close to call.

November 5, 2009

As the pro-abortion Democrat leadership in the House continues to push for a crucial vote this Saturday on the rule to bring the Pelosi health care bill to the floor, the House Rules Committee will meet tomorrow to determine which amendments will be attached to the measure and which will not. Rules Committee Chairwoman, pro-abortion Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) reportedly will accept the amendment offered by Congressman Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) for inclusion in the Pelosi bill.

Ellsworth’s amendment has already been deemed acceptable by one of the leaders of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO). The National Right to Life Committee calls the Ellsworth amendment “a political fig leaf made out of cellophane.”
Basically, it sets up more accounting steps that don’t change the basic fact that taxpayer dollars will be used to subsidize abortions. Whether any self-proclaimed pro-life Congressmen will now support allowing the Ellsworth-amended Pelosi health care bill to come to the House floor and thereby vote to kill the pro-life Stupak/Pitts amendment remains to be seen.

November 4, 2009

In a move designed to undercut support for the pro-life amendment Congressmen Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Pitts (R-PA) want to offer to the Pelosi health care bill, Congressman Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) has joined with pro-abortion Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to draft a new amendment to the health care bill. The National Right to Life Committee has strongly denounced the Ellsworth amendment, calling it a “phony compromise” that would merely create a “money-laundering scheme” to federally fund abortion. Indiana Right to Life has asked Mr. Ellsworth to withdraw the amendment.

As previously noted, before the House may consider the Pelosi health care measure, a procedural vote must occur on the “rule” for the bill. Speculation as to when this procedural vote may occur ranges from as early as tomorrow to as late as early next week. This vote may be the most important House vote on abortion in years. Unless a majority of the House votes not to bring the Pelosi bill to the floor, there is no chance that a vote on the Stupak/Pitts amendment will occur.

The pro-abortion Democratic leadership is pressing hard to keep the House in session through the upcoming weekend in an effort to try to pass the Pelosi bill before next Wednesday, which begins the three-day Veterans Day recess.

In the Senate, recent statements by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have led to speculation that Democrats are not optimistic that a final health care bill can be passed by the end of this year. The Senate is said to be at least a week and a half away from having a bill ready to take to the floor.

November 3, 2009

Top Democrats in the House continued to meet Monday night in strategy sessions on HR 3962, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) health care overhaul bill. Meanwhile, pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) told the Washington Post Monday that he is continuing to urge colleagues to oppose allowing the Pelosi bill to come to the House floor unless a vote to prohibit abortion funding in the measure is allowed. The Post also quotes NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan as saying that as of now a vote on HR 3962 would be “too close to call.”

In the Senate, the language of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) health care bill has still not been released.

Link to the Washington Post story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/02/AR2009110203232_pf.html

November 2, 2009

Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) continued to negotiate last week with the House Democrat leadership, but as of early this morning, no new developments have been announced in his effort to insert language in the Pelosi health care bill that would bar taxpayer funding of abortion. Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life, stated that there are “about 43” Democrats, more than enough to kill the health care bill, willing to vote against bringing it to the floor unless they are allowed to vote on the Stupak amendment.

According to news reports, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wants to bring her bill to the floor by the end of this week and has set November 11 as a target date for a vote.

October 30, 2009

News reports indicate that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is hoping for a House floor vote on the newly released health care overhaul bill by the end of next week. Senior Democrats, concerned over the possibility that pro-life Congressmen could block the bill from coming to the floor, are said to be working still on the measure’s abortion language.

In the Senate, observers are saying that a vote on a health care bill might not come until the end of the year at the earliest

October 29, 2009

Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled the new House version of the health care overhaul bill today. The measure still funds abortions by authorizing the government run “public option” to pay for abortions and by subsidizing private insurance plans that cover abortions. The bill also contains a new provision that bars school based clinics from performing abortions, but does not prohibit these clinics from referring students to abortion mills or from facilitating students’ abortions at other locations.

All 1,990 pages of the new bill, HR 3962, are available at: http://docs.house.gov/rules/health/111_ahcaa.pdf

October 28, 2009

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he had completed work on a health care overhaul bill to take to the floor, as of yesterday the language of his measure had not yet been made available, even to other Senators.

Sen. Reid needs the support of all 58 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with the Democrats in order to overcome a Republican filibuster of his bill. At least five Democrats and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT), however, have remained non-committal on whether they will ultimately vote for it. Sen. Lieberman, in fact, has said that if the Reid bill still contains a public option insurance plan when a vote occurs, he will oppose the legislation.

October 27, 2009 

Pro-abort Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) is reportedly working with freshmen and sophomore pro-life Democrat Congressmen to find compromise abortion language for the health care bill and thereby undermine pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) efforts to force a floor vote on his amendment to ban abortion funding and coverage. 

Meanwhile, Congressman Stupak told CNS News that in a phone conversation he had with President Obama, the President admitted that when he declared to Congress that “our” health care plan would not allow federal dollars to fund abortion, he wasn’t referring to any actual piece of legislation.  Mr. Stupak said of the President’s comment, “I don’t know if it is a game of semantics or what,” but added that he would welcome the President’s support of his amendment.” 

Link to Congressman Stupak’s comments:  http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/56109 

October 26, 2009

Pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) again told CNS News Friday that he has a group of “about 40 likeminded Democrats” who will vote against allowing a health care bill to come to the House floor if, as expected, pro-abortion Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tries to prevent amendments to the legislation from being offered.

That the Pelosi health care bill will fund abortions is close to a certainty. Pro-abort Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) told the Associated Press of his talks with Congressman Stupak on abortion coverage and funding, "We have a difference of opinion at the moment we cannot bridge."

Congressman Stupak said that if all the Democrats to whom he has spoken remain united and all Republicans vote with them, he will have enough votes to stop the health care bill. He added, though, that the Democrat leadership in the House will “twist arms” to get Democrat Congressmen to fall in line and vote to bring the health care bill to the floor without allowing amendments. The AP says of the Stupak pro-life rider, “Such an amendment would be almost certain to prevail, since it likely would attract the votes of most Republicans as well as some Democrats. So Democratic leaders won't let Stupak offer it.”

Link to CNS News story: www.cnsnews.com/news/article/56023

October 23, 2009

House Democrats say after a preliminary head count that they have at least 210 votes for their version of a health care bill, eight shy of a majority. Reportedly, abortion language has not been finalized for the legislation which may be unveiled as early as this coming Monday.

In the Senate, leaders met with President Obama on the health care overhaul. There was no word on when Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would release legislation to take to the Senate floor.

October 22, 2009

House Democrats have begun counting heads to determine the level of support for a yet unreleased version of health care overhaul legislation that includes a government run “public option” insurance plan. They say they are close to the 218 votes needed for passage, but would not release a tally. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters that she expects the House to pass health care legislation “well before Thanksgiving.”

Also on Wednesday, pro-life groups delivered a 137,000-signature petition to Members of Congress asking that abortion funding and coverage not be included in health care reform. Attending the press conference for the presentation were Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mike Pence (R-IN), and Eric Cantor (R-VA).

October 21, 2009

In a closed-door meeting with fellow Democrat legislators Tuesday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she is close to having the support of 218 Congressmen for a version of a health care overhaul bill that contains a government-run “public option” insurance plan.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reportedly may release a combined health care bill for the Senate floor as early as this Friday.

October 20, 2009

Two new polls show opposition to Obamacare holding firm among the American public. Rasmussen Reports’ latest ongoing poll shows that 42% support the health care reform efforts of Democrats in Congress, while 54% oppose them. A Washington Post/ABC poll states that 45% support health care overhaul legislation, while 48% are against it.

October 19, 2009

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) says he will offer on the Senate floor the same pro-life amendments he offered to the Baucus health care bill in the Finance Committee. The amendments would bar direct and indirect abortion funding and guarantee the right of conscience to health care workers. Senator Hatch does not need anyone’s permission to offer the amendments because, unlike in the House, the Senate Rules Committee can neither dictate the terms of debate on legislation nor bar amendments.

In the House, the Ways and Means Committee has certified HR 3200, the version of health care reform that it passed last summer, to be eligible for the reconciliation process. The reconciliation process is a parliamentary maneuver that, if invoked, would permit the Senate to pass a House-approved health care bill with 51 votes, instead of 60. Because the reconciliation process does not allow filibusters, it is referred to as “the nuclear option.”

October 16, 2009

The Associated Press now says that health care overhaul legislation is not likely to reach the House or Senate floor this month. In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) predicted that all 60 Democrats and Independents plus one to three Republicans will vote for the health care bill he and others are drafting, even though no one know what will be in it.

In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reemphasized that any House bill will have a government run “public option” health care plan.

October 15, 2009

As Senate leaders met to find a compromise version of the two competing health care bills in the upper chamber, interest groups began airing commercials attacking various versions of the legislation. So called “moderate” Democrats said that the vote of pro-abortion Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) had little impact on whether they will ultimately support a health care overhaul. Pro-abortion Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT) stated that he would not vote for either Senate bill as presently written.

In the House, pro-abortion Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that he hoped to have a floor vote on a health care bill by Christmas, but couldn’t guarantee that a vote would happen by then. Pundits speculate that the closer Congress gets to the 2010 elections, the less likely it is that health care legislation will pass.

October 14, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-9 to pass the Baucus health care overhaul bill Tuesday, with pro-abortion Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) joining the Committee’s 13 Democrats in supporting the measure. Sen. Snowe cautioned, however, that her vote does not automatically mean that she will support final passage of the legislation.

Pro-life Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), another Committee member, noted, “The real bill is currently being written behind closed doors,” a reference to the private meetings of Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) to assemble yet another revised health care bill to take to the full Senate. Mr. Reid says he hopes to begin floor debate the week

October 13, 2009

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Senate Finance Committee will finally vote on the Baucus health care bill sometime today after 10:00 AM Eastern time.

On the House side, pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) restated yesterday that if he is not allowed to offer a floor amendment to the health care bill explicitly barring abortion funding, he and other pro-life Representatives will seek to block the bill from ever coming to the floor for a vote. This could be accomplished if at least 39 Democrats joined all Republicans to reject the rule under which the bill could be considered. Congressman Stupak has previously said that he knows of 40 Democrats who will do so.

October 12, 2009

The health insurance industry is releasing a report today showing that for a family of four, health insurance premiums would cost $4,000 more in ten years under the Senate Finance Committee’s health care overhaul bill than they would without any reform. The report, which is receiving wide attention, may have an impact on Senate Democrat plans to rush health care legislation to the floor. The Finance Committee is still scheduled to vote on its bill tomorrow.

In yet another refutation of the President’s claim that health care reform will not use federal funds to pay for abortions, the AP wrote last Friday that under House health care bills, “taxpayer funds mingle with some insurance plans that, one way or another, pay for abortions.”

October 9, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced Thursday that the Senate Finance Committee will vote on the Baucus health care overhaul bill next Tuesday. The Baucus bill will then be merged with another measure before being sent to the full Senate for consideration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said Thursday that she would submit the House’s three health care bills to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis.

Finally, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Thursday wrote to every member of the House and Senate to say that it will “vigorously” oppose any of the above five bills as they are currently written. The Bishops ask that health care legislation be amended to exclude mandated abortion coverage, prohibit abortion funding, and protect the right of conscience of health care workers and institutions. The Bishops’ letter may be found at – http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-10-08-healthcare-letter-congress.pdf.

October 8, 2009

The Congressional Budget Office delivered its cost analysis of the Baucus health care bill to the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, clearing the way for a final Committee vote on the bill late this week or sometime next week. The CBO found that the Baucus bill would cost $829 billion over 10 years, but would still leave 25 million people uninsured.

The House Democratic Caucus continues to meet to configure the three pending House health care proposals into one. Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday affirmed yet again, “There will be a public option,” in the revised House bill. There is no word on what abortion language will be included in the legislation.

October 7, 2009

Four members of the Senate Finance Committee (Democrats Lincoln (AR), Rockefeller (WV), and Wyden (OR) and Republican Snowe (ME)) are still non-committal on how they will vote on the Baucus health care overhaul bill. Each of the pro-abortion Senators has different concerns about the legislation, none abortion related. Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said he expects the three Democrats to support his bill when the vote is taken.

The Obama Administration, meanwhile, is touting a letter received Tuesday from pro-abortion California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger endorsing the general concept that health care reform should be passed this year.

October 6, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee’s vote on the Baucus health care overhaul bill, originally planned for today or tomorrow, has now been pushed back to later this week or possibly next week. A cost analysis of the measure by the Congressional Budget Office is taking longer than expected to be completed. Two Democrats on the Committee, Senators Ron Wyden (OR) and Jay Rockefeller (WV), both advocates of a government-run “public option,” have declined to say whether they will support the Baucus bill when the vote is held.

October 5, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee is awaiting the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate on the cost of the Baucus health care bill before voting on the measure tomorrow or Wednesday. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hopes to have a bill delivered to the full Senate by next week. According to Time Magazine, a parliamentary vote on October 13 may provide an early gauge of support for the measure.

The House is expected to bring a health care bill to its floor no earlier than the week of October 19.

A Fox News poll released Friday shows declining support for health care reform, with 33% in favor of legislation pending in Congress and 53% opposed. Two weeks ago, the margin was 38% - 48%.

October 1, 2009

Having helped defeat pro-life amendments to his care bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said he hopes to wrap up debate on the measure by tomorrow. A final committee vote on the bill may not take place until next week, however, to allow time to calculate an estimate of its cost and whether it will add to the deficit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that he would cancel the traditional Columbus Day recess in hopes of bringing a health care bill to the Senate floor this month.

Afternoon of September 30, 2009

T
he Senate Finance Committee this morning defeated two pro-life amendments to the Baucus health care bill. Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) amendment to prevent federal subsidies from being used for health plans that cover abortion, but that would have still allowed individuals to purchase private abortion policies with their own money, failed on a 10-13 vote. Senator Hatch’s right of conscience amendment to protect pro-life individuals and institutions from discrimination was also defeated by a 10-13 vote.

In both votes, all Republicans except Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) supported the amendments and all Democrats except Senator Kent Conrad (ND) opposed them.

September 30, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee Tuesday did not consider any abortion related amendments to the Baucus health care bill, but did approve by a 12-11 vote an amendment by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to restore $50 million in funding for abstinence-only education. Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) joined all ten Republicans in supporting the amendment, which would restore money removed by President Obama’s budget. The Committee also approved by a 14-9 vote an amendment to fund education on contraception. The two conflicting amendments may or may not remain in the health care measure as it moves forward.

The Committee resumes debate on the Baucus bill today.

September 29, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee will resume debate today on the Baucus health care bill. While attention is reported to be focused on amendments to add a government run “public option” insurance plan, pro-life amendments may be considered.

In the House, pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) will reportedly meet today with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to discuss abortion provisions in the House health care bills. Congressman Stupak says he knows of 40 Democrats, enough to derail health care in the House if Republicans are united in opposition, who at least want floor votes to be allowed on pro-life amendments.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen Reports revealed a new poll Monday showing public support for Obamacare to be at its lowest point ever. People interviewed opposed the President’s proposal by a 41%-56% margin; among seniors, only 33% supported the plan while 59% were against it.

September 28, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee will resume meeting tomorrow to hear amendments to Senator Max Baucus’ health care reform bill. Pro-life amendments offered by Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Enzi may be considered.

On the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that she hopes to have a single, unified House bill drafted by this Friday.

September 25, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee continued deliberation on health care legislation yesterday, but did not consider any abortion related amendments. While today was the stated deadline for the committee to finish work on the bill, it’s now considered highly unlikely that the committee will meet that goal.

In the House, Democrats are busy forming one bill out of the three passed by various committees with the aim of beginning floor debate in mid-October.

September 24, 2009 

The Senate Finance Committee did not consider any abortion related amendments yesterday.  It did defeat by a 13-10 party line vote an amendment offered by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) to have the bill’s final language and cost estimate posted on the internet for 72 hours before the committee voted on it.  Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said that a summary, not the actual language, and cost analysis of the bill would be available sometime before the final vote.

September 23, 2009

Thee Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday began its week long consideration of Chairman Max Baucus’s health care bill. Of the 564 amendments that have been filed thus far, several will deal with life issues. Among those expected to be offered by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) are amendments to:

-protect health care workers’ right of conscience;

-prohibit the use of federal funds for abortions and plans that cover abortions;

-bar the use of federal monies for assisted suicide and plans that cover assisted suicide;

-ensure that state abortion laws are not preempted by the health care bill; and

-forbid the federal government from requiring that any plan offer abortion coverage.

The Finance Committee consists of 14 pro-abortion and 9 pro-life Senators, although one pro-abortion Senator, Kent Conrad (D-ND) sometimes opposes federal funding for abortions.

September 21, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee will begin consideration of Chairman Max Baucus’s “compromise” health care legislation tomorrow. While the committee has scheduled three days of debate on the bill, Senators will reportedly offer more than 560 amendments, including ones to bar abortion funding and coverage, calling into question whether work on the measure can be completed in three days.

September 18, 2009

According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, 48% of Americans say that any government subsidized health care plan should prohibit abortion coverage, 13% believe that abortion coverage should be mandated, and 32% think that abortion should be neither prohibited nor mandated.

In Rasmussen’s tracking poll on President Obama’s health care plan, opposition to “Obamacare” rose to an all-time high of 56% today, with 43% in support. The poll marks a dramatic drop in support for the President’s plan in the last week. Immediately after Mr. Obama’s speech to Congress, Rasmussen showed 51% in favor of his health care legislation, with 46% opposed.

Click here for the abortion poll

Click here for the health care tracking poll

September 17, 2009


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has released his version of health care reform legislation with the claim, “Federal funds continue to be prohibited from being used to pay for abortions unless the pregnancy is due to rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger.”

An analysis of the Baucus bill by the National Right to Life Committee, however, finds that it contains an “array of pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for elective abortion” as well as a “financial incentive to ration care.” To view the NRLC analysis, click here.

Pro-life amendments are expected to be offered to the Baucus bill when the Finance Committee considers the measure starting next Tuesday.

NRLC analysis link: www.nrlc.org/press_releases_new/Release091609.html

September 16, 2009


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) announced Tuesday that the “Gang of Six” committee members could not agree on compromise health care reform language and that he will move forward on legislation without Republican support. Senator Baucus was still revising the bill’s abortion language yesterday.

Meanwhile, after a meeting between Senate Democrats and President Obama’s senior political advisor David Axelrod, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, “There is no way, in its present form, that I will vote for [the Baucus bill],” citing its lack of a government insurance plan (i.e. “public option”).

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to begin consideration of the legislation next week.

September 11, 2009

Pro-life Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) has reiterated that unless health care reform legislation excludes abortion funding, he and his colleagues will do whatever they can to block the bill.

Cong. Stupak said to CBN News that he has told the House leadership and the White House that they must at least allow a floor vote on an amendment to prevent abortion funding, saying to them, “If you don't give us the vote, everything is off the table.” Cong. Stupak has previously said that if an abortion amendment vote is not allowed, at least 39 Democrats will join him in opposing the bill.

September 10, 2009

In his speech to Congress last night, President Obama asserted that “[n]o federal dollars will be used to fund abortions” under his health care plan. Even the New York Times notes, however, that under pending legislation, “in practice, the public and private money would all go into the same pot, and the source of money for any single procedure [such as abortion] is largely a technicality.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has announced that the full text of his “compromise” health care legislation will be released next week. A currently available 18-page summary of the bill makes no mention of abortion or “reproductive health.”

September 3, 2009 

The White House has announced that President Obama will address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday, September 9, to provide more specifics on what he wants included in health care reform legislation.  Administration officials are not indicating what those specifics will be.

Meanwhile, six members of the Senate Finance Committee continue to work on possible compromise health care legislation.  Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has set a September 15 deadline for the six to produce a bill.

September 2, 2009

Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn have issued a Joint Pastoral Statement, “Principles of Catholic Social Teaching and Health Care Reform.” In it, they call for the explicit exclusion of abortion, euthanasia, and mandatory end of life counseling from any health care reform bill. They also discuss the principle of subsidiarity, the “principle by which we respect the inherent dignity and freedom of the individual by never doing for others what they can do for themselves and thus enabling individuals to have the most possible discretion in the affairs of their lives.” The complete Pastoral Statement is available here.

Fargo Bishop Samuel Aquila, in a letter to his Diocese on health reform legislation, wrote, “Any provisions for actions which deny the dignity of human life, especially abortion, euthanasia, whether passive or active, and embryonic stem-cell research must be excluded from all health care plans.” He also cited the principle of subsidiarity – that many communities, not just the federal government, should be involved in the provision of health care. Bishop Aquila’s letter may be viewed here. (PDF)

September 1, 2009

The Catholic Health Association has restated that while it remains committed to the goal of health coverage for every person, it has not endorsed any current legislation.  Sr. Carol Keehan, D.C., President and CEO of the association, stated in a press release, “Health reform should not result in an expansion of abortion, and it must maintain conscience protections for health care providers who do not want to participate in abortions or other morally objectionable procedures."

July 31, 2009

The Committee then voted 30-28 to approve an amendment offered by pro-abortion Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) that would require that every region of the country have access to at least one insurance plan that covers abortion and one that doesn’t. The amendment also states that federal funds could not be used directly for abortions, much like the family planning money received by groups like Planned Parenthood cannot be used directly for abortions.

In debating HR 3200, the health care overhaul bill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 initially approved by a 30-28 vote an amendment offered by pro-life Congressmen Joe Pitts (R-PA), Bart Stupak (D-MI), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would have prohibited the legislation from imposing abortion as a required benefit in health insurance plans. Hours after the amendment’s passage, pro-abortion Committee Chair Howard Waxman (D-CA) moved to reconsider it and on a second vote, the amendment was defeated 28-29. Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN) switched his vote from “yea” to “nay” and Congressman Zach Space (D-OH), who didn’t vote initially, voted “nay.”

Meanwhile, a group of 57 “progressive” Representatives wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating that they will not support the health care “compromise” legislation currently pending in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

In the Senate, the Finance Committee will not vote on its version of health care legislation until after the August and Labor Day recesses.

July 17, 2009

Health care bills with "greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade" to be on Senate and House floors in late July!  Take action now -- click here!  To learn more about this critical issue, click here.

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Letter from Bishop Murphy and the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development (PDF)

June 29, 2009

Health Care Reform Legislation

Three committees in the House of Representatives have released an untitled and unnumbered “discussion draft” of health care reform legislation. The measure doesn’t include explicit language on abortion, but as it’s currently written the bill would almost certainly force every taxpayer to subsidize abortions.

Under the legislation a “Health Benefits Advisory Committee” would determine what services and treatments must be included in health care plans. The Committee would consist of the Surgeon General, 17 members appointed by the President (8 would be federal employees or officials; 9 non-federal employees), and 9 members appointed by the Comptroller General (who is the head of the Government Accounting Office). This Committee of mostly Presidential appointees, which would have the power to make abortion a covered benefit in the new health care system, wouldn’t even be named until after the legislation had already been enacted into law.

Congressman Chris Smith has circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter (PDF) to fellow House members outlining the dangers of health care reform legislation that does not explicitly exclude abortion from coverage.

Nineteen pro-life Democrat Congressmen have written a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (PDF) stating that they “cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan.”

Click here for the “discussion draft” of the legislation

Priests for Life
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