Abortion Showdown Looming in Senate
The abortion debate in the Senate is looking more and more like that in the House every day.
Last week, it was liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) predicting that anti-abortion lawmakers in the upper chamber wouldn’t be able to rally the 60 votes needed to pass an amendment to health reform legislation restricting abortion. This week, it’s an influential moderate Democrat warning that the health bill won’t pass without such a provision. Roll Call reports:
“What is clear is that for this bill to be successful, there can be no taxpayer funding for abortion,” Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Conrad said he did not know whether the Senate would ultimately adopt the restrictive language that the House passed last week, which dictated that any new government-funded health insurance option cannot pay for abortions. But he said that some kind of abortion restriction is necessary for a bill to get through Congress.
The debate in the House is following a similar storyline, with conservative Democrats insisting that the abortion restrictions be included, and no small number of liberal Democrats hinging their support on their absence. With neither side appearing ready to back down, you can look for Democratic leaders to perform a very delicate scalpel job during conference negotiations to reconcile the two bills — something that would allow both sides to claim victory.