Depending on the source, Democrats are either moving towards resolving Blue Dog objections to public funding of abortions, or heading towards a cliff on an ObamaCare vote in the House. Roll Call reports that progress has been made in adding language to block federal funding of abortion (subscription required):
Democrats are close to finalizing an abortion compromise that would hopefully draw enough moderate anti-abortion Democrats to mitigate a threat from Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., to block the bill from coming to the floor.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has been working on the abortion compromise with Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. At a Caucus meeting Monday night, Ellsworth circulated revised language to strengthen the outline drafted by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., without writing into law the Hyde Amendment’s prohibition on using federal funds for abortion. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., said the language assuaged his concerns about abortion in the bill. “It makes it clear that no federal dollars can be used for abortion,” Hill said.
However, the Washington Post says that no movement has occurred at all, and the potential fault line could doom the bill:
House leaders were still negotiating Monday with the bloc of Democrats concerned about abortion provisions in the legislation, saying that they could lead to public funding of the procedure. After an evening meeting of top House Democrats, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) said, “We are making progress,” but added that they had not reached an agreement.
The outcome of those talks could be crucial in deciding the fate of the health-care bill. Democrats need the vast majority of their caucus to back the bill, since nearly all congressional Republicans have said they will oppose the legislation.
“I will continue whipping my colleagues to oppose bringing the bill to the floor for a vote until a clean vote against public funding for abortion is allowed,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Monday in a statement. He said last week that 40 Democrats could vote with him to oppose the legislation — enough to derail the bill.
As if that didn’t give the Democratic leadership enough problems, an issue that erupted into the national spotlight two months ago has arisen again. Rep. Joe Wilson cried out, “You lie!” during Barack Obama’s speech to the joint session of Congress when the President insisted that illegal immigrants would not get services or subsidies under ObamaCare. However, in the same Roll Call report, it turns out that illegal immigration has not been properly addressed in Pelosi’s version of the bill:
But immigration continues to dog House Democrats in their push to unveil a manager’s amendment today. The chairs of the Progressive, Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander caucuses sent a letter to House Speaker Pelosi Monday pushing back against attempts to exclude undocumented workers from buying insurance through the exchange even if they use their own money.
The caucuses want to “ensure that no citizenship or residency verification is required for purchase of insurance in the Health Insurance Exchange,” the letter says. They also want Pelosi to push for the House’s version of the public option in a conference with the Senate — and insist that it be included without a trigger or opt-out provision.
A group of House Democrats are working with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the assistant to the speaker, to add language that would bring the House’s treatment of the issue closer to the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee’s version of the bill prohibits undocumented workers from buying insurance through the exchange.
It appears that the Blue Dogs may have two big fights on their hands. If Republicans win today’s elections, they will have even more motivation to stick to their guns. A radical Democratic agenda that funds abortions and provides access to a government-run health-care system to illegal immigrats will spell electoral disaster for them in 2010. They can’t afford to be seen as acquiescing to Nancy Pelosi on either if they expect to remain competitive in their home districts next year — and even if they do push back, they may not stand much of a chance anyway.