Senate committee rejects amendments enforcing immigration check, blocking abortion funding
posted at 2:18 pm on September 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
During his speech to Congress, Barack Obama derided the notion that ObamaCare would pay for abortions and for health insurance for illegal immigrants as “false”, a “misunderstanding” spread by opponents who wanted to derail his efforts to reinvent the American health-care system:
There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.
Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch took Obama at his word — and discovered that Democrats have a much different plan than what Obama said three weeks ago today. Hatch offered an amendment to the Baucus plan in the Senate Finance Committee that would have required that no plan receiving federal funding pay for abortions. It failed, 10-13, on almost a party-line vote:
The Senate Finance Committee rejected an amendment to its healthcare bill Wednesday that would have required women to purchase a separate, supplemental insurance plan to cover abortion services.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) proposed the amendment with the goal of making existing laws against federal money being used to pay for abortions, and the language in the healthcare bill, ironclad.
“All I’m asking — my gosh — is for specific language in the bill that prohibits federal dollars from being used to fund abortions,” Hatch said. …
Democrats on the committee, along with pro-abortion-rights Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) rejected Hatch’s argument, saying it would be unfair to require women to purchase separate insurance coverage for abortion services. Such a requirement, Snowe said, would raise privacy issues by asking women to anticipate their need for abortion coverage.
Kent Conrad (D-ND) crossed over to support Hatch’s amendment.
Baucus argued that the existing Hyde Amendment and other rules in his new plan would keep federal money from flowing to abortions. However, the Hyde Amendment only covers monies distributed in HHS appropriations; any other funds used in ObamaCare would not be subject to its restrictions.
As Hatch argued in his effort to pass the amendment, the Baucus bill establishes a “segregation” of federal subsidies from premiums paid by policyholders in order to argue that it would be the latter that would fund abortion coverage. That’s simply absurd. In that arrangement, the funds are completely fungible, since the policyholder would merge them to pay the single bill. The government would still be giving funds to insurers through the policyholder that would go towards abortions.
Afterward, it was Grassley’s turn for disillusionment:
Senate Finance Committee Democrats rejected a proposed a requirement that immigrants prove their identity with photo identification when signing up for health insurance or tax credits under healthcare reform.
Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that current law and the healthcare bill under consideration are too lax and leave the door open to illegal immigrants defrauding the government using false or stolen identities to obtain benefits.
Grassley’s amendment was beaten back 10-13 on a party-line vote.
Will Obama demand that Democrats quit contributing to mythmaking? I’m not holding my breath.