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Senate skeptical of Stupak amendment

Planned Parenthood just blasted out a roundup of senators who have voiced doubts about the Stupak amendment. It's a more impressive, and moderate, list than I would have guessed:

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid:
“We’re going to continue to work with pro-choice folks, pro-life folks in the Senate and come up with something that’s fair and reasonable.” New York Times, 11/10/09

“At a Capitol Hill event this morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid implied that the Stupak amendment exceeds the strictures of the years-old Hyde amendment which prohibits federal funds from financing abortions. ‘I expect that the bill that will be brought to the floor will ensure ... no federal contribution to abortion, and that [the] rights of providers, health care facilities like Catholic hospitals, are protected,’ Reid said. ‘The one thing that we're certain to do is to maintain what we have had in the past. I had the good fortune, as did Senator Durbin to serve with Henry Hyde, the Hyde amendment has been a pretty good way to go through this last couple of decades.'” Talking Points Memo, 11/10/09

Sen. Max Baucus:
“I doubt [Stupak amendment] could pass.” Huffington Post, 11/10/09

Sen. Chris Dodd:
“Other senators said they are happy with their chamber’s current proposals. ‘We have pretty good provisions in our bill.'” Bloomberg 11/10/09

Sen. Tom Harkin:
“I just fear that the House-passed language goes far beyond [previous restrictions] and will effectively prevent women from receiving abortion coverage under the new health exchanges even if they are using their own money to buy insurance. I think that is unfortunate and goes too far. So, we will be addressing this issue before [the Senate bill] goes to the floor. My hope is that we can strike the appropriate balance. ... I think keeping the status quo is the best thing we can do. I think it has worked well over the past 20-some years, and I see no reason to change it at this point.” RH Reality Check, 11/10/09

Sen. Barbara Boxer:
“If someone wants to offer this very radical amendment, which would really tear apart [a decades-long] compromise, then I think at that point they would need to have 60 votes to do it. And I believe in our Senate we can hold it. ... This is very discriminatory towards women. ... It is a much more pro-choice Senate than it has been in a long time. And it is much more pro-choice than the House.” Huffington Post, 11/10/09

Sen. Susan Collins:
“Maine Senator Susan Collins, an abortion-rights supporter and one of the few Republicans who might back health legislation, said she believes the plan that came out of the Senate Finance Committee ‘did a good job putting up a firewall that would prevent federal funds from going to abortions.’” Bloomberg, 11/10/09

Sen. Kent Conrad:
“I don’t know that anyone has quite found the right formula yet.” Politico, 11/9/09

Sen. Dianne Feinstein:
"To take away the rights women have had for decades -- I find that very hard to believe we'd vote for that," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)” MedPage Today, 11/10/09

Sen. Blanche Lincoln:
“I think it does overstep, in that although it does maintain current law it also takes another step where it prohibits private dollars from being spent on private insurance in the private marketplace that actually would cover women’s reproductive services...We went to great lengths in the Finance Committee bill to make sure that we were extremely respectful to current law, that we didn’t add to it or take away from it in any way.” Arkansas News Bureau, 11/11/09

Sen. Claire McCaskill:
“In a statement, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, expressed opposition to restrictions like those adopted by the House. Ms. McCaskill said Congress should not ‘change current law, which is no public money for abortions.’ And she said the House bill ‘goes too far limiting private funds, too.’” New York Times, 11/10/09

Sen. Arlen Specter:
“Ben Nelson said he wasn’t going to support a bill if it isn’t clear that government money won’t be used to fund abortions. Well, we can make it clear that if someone wants to buy abortion coverage with her own money, she can do it.” Media Consortium: Weekly Pulse, 11/11/09

By Ezra Klein  |  November 13, 2009; 2:58 PM ET
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Sen. Barbara Boxer:
“If someone wants to offer this very radical amendment, which would really tear apart [a decades-long] compromise, then I think at that point they would need to have 60 votes to do it. And I believe in our Senate we can hold it."

Yeah, but only by filibustering the amendment which would be a defacto filibuster of the underlying bill. Amendments take only 50 a simple majority to pass. It is the cloture motion to end debate on the amendment that takes 60. So if an amendment is offered to put Stupak into the Senate bill, the Dems could defeat it with a simple majority of 51 to defeat the amendment or filibuster the amendment and thereby filibuster there own bill.

Posted by: WoodbridgeVa1 | November 13, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Ezra- So what are the implications of this for HC reform? Could the House pass a final bill that does not include the abortion restrictions of the Stupak amendment?

My, perhaps overly simplified view, is that if the Senate refuses to include something similar to Stupak amendment then reform is in trouble.

Posted by: MBP2 | November 13, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Pro-choicers don't seem to have a problem with how Stupak-Pitts applied the Hyde Amendment framework, but rather with the Hyde Amendment framework itself and the refusal to grant special protections to abortion providers in any new federal health programs.
When you extend federal involvement into health care, is it not reasonable that existing restrictions relating to federal health programs also be extended?

Posted by: cprferry | November 13, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused. What "special protections" are being discussed. What other medical providers are excluded from public health funding? FWIW, I think the Hyde amendment is wrong too and I expect that a legal challenge to Stupak would invalidate both.

Either you believe that treatment decisions with respect to legal procedures are ultimately between the doctor and patient or you don't. The Supreme Court's finding in Roe v. Wade was that it is not proper for the government to impose itself on that decision.

In the case of Stupak, the government wants to force everyone to purchase insurance then says that anyone who accepts the subsidies they need to comply with the law must allow a level of government intervention not required by those who do not have subsidies or for any other medical procedure.

If you define "universal health care" as mandatory insurance (the dubious premise of the current bills), the standards for medical care must be universal. We cannot say that by virtue of their poverty, some women are less protected from government intervention in their care.

Posted by: Athena_news | November 13, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The status quo is that the Hyde amendment must be renewed annually. Therefore any anti-choice provisions in HCR must also be renewed annually.

Posted by: bmull | November 13, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

If ObamaCare passes, there will be no "status quo." Policy will either be a bit more restrictive with regard to abortion funding (a la Stupak), or a whole lot more pro-abortion, if the Stupak amendment is stripped.

This could take down the whole ObamaCare bill. Ha ha ha -- what a shame! (Full sarcasm on...)

Posted by: yourstruly1991 | November 16, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

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