Roundup: Enjoy Your Present Now, Stupak Could Grinch You

Robin Marty

It's the night before Christmas, and health care reform has passed. Who was naughty, and was anyone nice? And does Sen. Nelson have buyer's remorse?

Merry Christmas: health care reform has passed. Love it, hate it, or indifferent to it, there is one thing we can all agree on – it is a monumental piece of legislation.
Of course, the question remains, "what now?" TPM answers.

According to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Senate health care principals
(including himself) and their counterparts in the House will begin
working with Democratic leaders and White House officials next week to
marry the two chambers’ bills. During that process, they’ll have to be
mindful of just how fragile the coalition in the Senate is, and will
likely make no dramatic changes to the legislation that passed this

That means the House will face a vote on a final bill that’s likely
to be less progressive in a number of ways than the package they passed
in November. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is already fielding defection threats
from a number of high-profile progressives in her caucus. And given
that the first bill passed by an extremely slim margin, for almost
every "yes" in her caucus who becomes a "no," she’ll have to find a
"no" vote, and turn it into a "yes."

CNN goes into the process with a little more detail, including the fact that Congressman Bart Stupak could still be a Grinch and derail the final passage if he chooses:

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Another sticking point is coverage for abortion. A late compromise
in the House led to the adoption of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which
bans most abortion coverage from the public option. It would also
prohibit abortion coverage in private policies available in the
exchange to people receiving federal subsidies.

A similar
amendment introduced by Sen. Ben Nelson failed in the Senate. To get
his vote, a compromise was reached that allows states to choose whether
to ban abortion coverage in health plans offered in the insurance
exchanges. Individuals purchasing plans through the exchanges would
have to pay for abortion coverage out of their own money.

As lawmakers work to merge the bills, there will be no other option other than to pick the Nelson compromise, [Norm] Ornstein said.

real question is whether or not Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak "tries to
lead an insurgent group of pro-life Democrats away from the bill as a
result of a compromise," he added.

And speaking of Grinches, the Catholic Bishops are still cranky this Christmas Eve.

"Apparently a Senate bill that unleashes unprecedented funding for
abortions is the Senate’s idea of a Christmas gift," said Fr. Pavone. 
"Given that taxpayers oppose public funding of abortion by a
three-to-one margin, perhaps next November Senators will learn just how
offensive their gift is.  Beginning immediately, Priests for Life is
mobilizing voters to put the right to life first in every election."

Sen. Ben Nelson appears to have found some coal in his stocking, as well.  After taking heat from both sides of the abortion debate, he had this to say on Fox News:

I think my colleagues know that we
introduced legislation that is comparable to the Stupak legislation in
the house dealing with barring the use of federal funds for elective abortions. We introduced it
over here. it was bipartisan. it was Hatch — it was Nelson Hatch Casey, and it didn’t pass. So I began the process of
trying to find other solutions that I thought equally walled off the use
of federal funds and made it clear that no federal funds would be used. Now, apparently i didn’t say "mother may I" in the process of writing
that language because others took issue with it, even though they cannot constructively
point out how it doesn’t prohibit the use of federal funds or wall off
those funds or keep them totally segregated. They just didn’t like the
language. well, you know, if in the conference the
stupak-nelson-hatch-casey language passes, i’ll be happy, and
so will congressman stupak and so would, i would imagine, those who
signed on to that legislation. you know, it’s unfortunate, though, to
continue to distort and misrepresent what happens here in the body of
the senate. 

So where is the holiday cheer over this bill? Well, Independent Women’s Forum has a little, although it’s fairly lukewarm.

It’s the season of hope, and of course we can still hope that Members
come to their sense over the holidays and return to scrap the current
frighteningly destructive proposals and start anew with legislation
that would actually make the health care market place more competitive
and help control health care costs. And now, I’ll get back to baking
cookies for Santa Claus…

And on that note, a happy holidays to one and all.  I’ll be back to roundup with you again in 2010!



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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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