Bottom line, as long as Stupak and his pro-life coalition remain true to their principles, Democrat healthcare reform is dead
How the Democrat Abortion Dilemma Kills Healthcare Reform
By Fred Dardick Thursday, March 11, 2010
It was only a few months ago the House of Representatives faced the real possibility of healthcare reform failure. Lacking the support of Bart Stupak and his 11 pro-life colleagues, Pelosi couldn’t find enough votes to pass the legislation.
Pelosi and House leadership, abortion proponents they may be, at the last minute bowed to the inevitable and included the Stupak Amendment which explicitly banned federal funding for abortions to get the bill passed.
Five months later and once again the major stumbling block preventing Democrats from their decades long dream of total control of the American healthcare system is Stupak and his pro-life gang.
Just like in November, Democrats are faced with the option of either agreeing to their demands, or face total healthcare reform failure.
However, Pelosi and friends have a problem. Even if they wanted to include strong anti-abortion language in the legislation, procedural wise there is no good way for them to accomplish this.
They can’t propose a change to the abortion language with reconciliation. Strict Senate rules exclude non-budget related items from the reconciliation process.
Neither can Democrats write a separate law or sidebar bill to appease Stupak and his supporters. Thanks to the election in Massachusetts, Republicans now have the necessary 41 votes to filibuster any new legislation in the Senate; something they have already promised to do should Democrats take this route.
The latest procedure under consideration is for the House pass the Senate bill, but rather than forward it on to the President, they’ll hang on to it as a way to pressure the Senate into passing a reconciliation bill acceptable to the House, which no doubt would include the Stupak Amendment or something close to it.
While this may be technically feasible, and past Parliamentarians have acknowledged it could work, it is unlikely. For one thing, this method assumes that Stupak trusts Pelosi and Obama anymore than he trusts the Senate.
What would stop Pelosi from after a month of failure from saying ”Well, we tried the reconciliation thing and it didn’t work, so let’s send the Senate bill to the President and be done with it.”
Numerous pundits have already concluded that reconciliation talk may just be a smoke screen to convince the House to pass the Senate bill. Presidential Spokesman Robert Gibbs has already indicated that Obama would sign the Senate legislation if it ever made it to his desk, and worry about reconciliation afterward. I don’t think anyone doubts that Obama would have no problem introducing House Democrats to the underside of the bus if that’s what it would take to pass healthcare reform.
The House couldn’t pass a healthcare bill back in November without the support of Stupak and his colleagues and there’s no reason to believe now is any different. Lacking a legislative mechanism to include language that can address their concerns, there is no way for the House to come up with enough votes to pass the Senate bill, regardless of reconciliation.
Bottom line, as long as Stupak and his pro-life coalition remain true to their principles, Democrat healthcare reform is dead.
A Final Message
It didn’t exactly take Nostradamus to predict that some sort of accommodation between Stupak and his pro-life supporters and the Senate would be needed. However, Democrats being Democrats disregarded the necessity of compromise and assumed that they could just steamroll the House on this issue.
It is now becoming clear that the Senate reached too far. If only they had agreed to ban the use of federal funds for abortions, healthcare reform would be a reality.