Pro-life leaders on Capitol Hill are once again rolling up their sleeves for the health care fight after the White House announced it would publish a compromise bill as soon as Sunday to push through abortion-expanding health care.
In a New York Times report Thursday, Democratic officials confirmed that President Obama’s proposal was being designed for attachment to a budget bill, which would require only a 51-vote majority in the Senate through a process known as budget reconciliation.
If the new legislation (which is essentially a package of compromises to satisfy House Democrats) passes, the House would be forced to swallow whole the health bill the Senate passed in December. The House-passed bill, which included the Stupak language barring government monies from funding abortion, would be completely discarded in favor of the abortion-expanding Senate bill.
While Democrats originally intended to ram through a reconciled version of the House and Senate bills, that plan was dropped after Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown’s win in January unexpectedly snatched away the Senate Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority.
Officials told the NYT that the president would post the new plan on the Internet by Monday morning. A Congressional Quarterly report claimed the release could come as early as Sunday.
The reception by Congressional Democrats of Obama’s proposal is not yet certain: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly told White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel that she could not agree to a proposal until the end of the recess. House Democrats are expected to meet Monday evening.
The White House also threw down the gauntlet to Republicans, inviting party lawmakers to a televised summit Feb 25 to discuss the GOP’s solutions for health care reform. “I want to consult closely with our Republican colleagues,” Obama told CBS’s Katie Couric earlier this month. “What I want to do is to ask them to put their ideas on the table.”
Republicans have countered that their own proposal for health care reform has been publicly available for months, while the White House has all but completely shut out GOP members from negotiations throughout the long health care push. Michael Steele, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, blasted the proposed summit as “an infomercial” to push the unpopular bill.
“How will they incorporate our ideas? Will they abandon their plans to jam through their latest backroom deal?” asked Steele. “Or is this just an infomercial for the same government takeover of health care that the American people have rejected again and again?”
In a letter to Rahm Emanuel this month, Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor wrote: “We welcome President Obama’s announcement of forthcoming bipartisan health care talks. In fact, you may remember that last May, Republicans asked President Obama to hold bipartisan discussions on health care in an attempt to find common ground, but he declined and instead chose to work with only Democrats.”
Once again, the question of abortion funding is poised to throw a wrench in the delicate scheme: a Capitol Hill Democrat admitted to the Times that abortion remains “a wild card” for the health bill’s future. The House bill passed by a razor-thin margin, relying on votes that insiders say will vanish when faced with a bill that lacks Hyde-amendent protection against abortion funding.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com last week, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, expressed certainty that pro-life Democrat representatives would hold out for a Hyde-amendment ban on abortion funding.
“They will. I’ve talked to many of them,” said Smith. “They have hardened their position. I think they’ve seen how noble their position is. They are not going to go for a phony compromise. They are not going to go for weakening language no matter how cleverly it is presented.”
Just before the Senate passed its health bill last year, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), the final Democrat holding out against the bill and citing opposition to abortion funding, suddenly reversed his decision and endorsed a bill without the Stupak language.
Leaders in the Stop the Abortion Mandate Coalition urged pro-lifers to contact their senators and representatives urging opposition against the vast abortion expansion the health bill promises.
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