Senate Dem Leader May Revoke Filibuster
Against Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 7, 2009



Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- In a Thursday interview, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid would not rule out using a special parliamentary process to prevent pro-life advocates from stopping the pro-abortion health care bill with a filibuster. The filibuster could be the only option to prevent a huge expansion of abortion funding.

With Republicans having just 40 votes and only a couple of Democrats concerned about the massive abortion funding and insurance mandates in the health care bill, a filibuster is a necessary option.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he doesn't want to have to use a process called reconciliation but won't take it off the table.

Reconciliation is a fast-track, rarely-employed budget rule that makes it so key bills can be approved on a majority vote while revoking the right of the minority to use a filibuster to hold up legislation.

We're not even discussing [it], Reid said. We believe health care should be bipartisan. We believe we have the opportunity to do that.

But when asked about comments pro-abortion Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, made earlier in the week about keeping the reconciliation option on the table, Reid admitted that it could be used.

I've never known Schumer to say anything wrong," Reid quipped.

"We don't want to use reconciliation unless we have to. I hope we don't have to," Reid added.

When a filibuster is used, the Senate needs a supermajority of 60 votes to end debate and allow a vote on a measure.

With a filibuster, pro-life advocates could hold up the pro-abortion health care bill if it is not amended to specifically exclude any abortion funding, insurance mandates and other pro-life protections such as a conscience clause and limits on reversing state abortion limits.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, told LifeNews.com previously that reconciliation would make it hard for pro-life advocates and their elected officials to object to the bill.

He said Obama "administration officials and some congressional Democratic leaders are seeking a way to ram a plan quickly into law -- they hope to minimize the time that would be available for the public to become aware of all the radical effects of their plan."

Pro-life Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, voiced his concerns about reconciliation during a hearing on the nomination of pro-abortion Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to become Obama's Health Secretary.

"I'm afraid that if that reconciliation winds up in the budget bill, it'll be like a declaration of war," he said.

Reid hinted at using reconciliation earlier this year to deprive pro-life senators of their filibuster right on a health care bill and he defended the idea in April.

"I don't know why everyone is up in arms," Reid said then.

For the pro-life movement, elections have consequences and the results of a pro-abortion president and a Congress with a solid pro-abortion majority may be a health care bill that covers abortions and requires insurance companies to pay for them.

With so few pro-life votes in the Senate, reconciliation could stop pro-life lawmakers in their tracks as they attempt to defeat or amend the bill.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life - http://www.nrlc.org