Posts Tagged - ‘bart stupak’

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Why Pro-Life Democrats Changed Their Minds on Healthcare Reform

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

One of the most unpredictable aspects of the healthcare reform debate was the position of pro-life Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan. Nearly a dozen representatives supported the health insurance legislation that originally passed the House of Representatives in November. However, they were leery of passing the Senate’s bill, because they thought the language against abortion coverage wasn’t strict enough.

The House’s bill expressly prevented any of the affordable health insurance options participating in the federally subsidized exchange market from offering coverage of abortion. The Senate bill–which the House was voting on yesterday–does not directly fund the procedure, but allows plans to offer it if that portion of funds was clearly separated from the subsidy and paid for solely with private money. Stupak and others were skeptical of its effectiveness, but President Obama agreed to sign an executive order reiterating current law. The Hyde Amendment was passed in the 1970s, and prevents government funding of elective abortions. Stupak would like further statutory language, but the issue cannot be dealt with through reconciliation.

While this compromise satisfied pro-life Democrats, Republicans railed against it. They pointed out that executive orders can be revoked by either Congress or the President at any time. One of them even heckled Stupak on the House floor, calling him a “baby killer”. Nevertheless, the anti-abortion Dems pressed on, and pushed the bill over the top in support.

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200 Votes Against Healthcare Reform?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Rep. James E. Clyburn. (Image: Center for American Progress under CC 3.0)

Political analysts believe that there are now 200 votes against healthcare reform legislation, slightly less than half of the House of Representatives. The Senate’s bill would have a great impact on America’s health insurance industry, and must be passed by the House before a budget reconciliation bill to address some of their concerns can be approved. However, Majority Whip James Clyburn faces another roadblock in securing the votes.

Those likely against the health insurance changes now include:

  • All Republicans, including Rep. Joseph Cao–who voted in favor of the House’s bill the first time around.
  • 15 of the 39 Democrats who voted against the House’s legislation in November, whom may be joined by others who are currently uncommitted. Most of their concerns were related to the budget deficit cost control, which take greater priority in the more conservative Senate bill.
  • Nearly a dozen anti-abortion Democrats, including Rep. Bart Stupak, who consider the Senate’s restrictions on the procedure too lenient. Congressional leadership recently told them that the issue cannot be resolved through the reconciliation process (which can only be used for tax- and budget-related matters).
  • 21 Democrats facing tough re-election battles in conservative districts. Although they originally voted yes, Republicans believe that they may flip-flop.

In order for affordable health insurance reform to become law, it will require 216 votes in the House. Supporters believe that it can be done, albeit with them cutting it close.

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Democrats May Lose Healthcare Reform Votes Over Abortion

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

The Obama administration has decided to go for broke and officially endorse the budget reconciliation method in order to pass healthcare reform legislation. However, doing so may be harder than they expected.

(Image: David Ortez under CC 3.0)

Originally, health insurance plan reform passed by a margin of 220-215 in the House of Representatives. The solitary Republican who voted in favor of it, Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana, has struggled in fundraising and said that he will oppose it this time around. Meanwhile, several Democrats have retired, and one even switched parties! Some Democrats voted against it the first time around.

According to Rep. Bart Stupak, about 10 to 12 Democratic “yes” votes may evaporate. Their sticking point is abortion: those pro-life representatives believe that the Senate bill’s restrictions against federal funding of health insurance coverage that includes abortion coverage (through the proposed health insurance exchanges) are not as strong as those in the House’s bill. Reconciliation would force them to vote for the Senate bill as-is and accept promises that it will be amended in the future, a prospect of which politicians are certainly skeptical.

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