The House is expected to vote today on a $1.055 trillion health care package that would expand coverage for up to 36 million people — but first there will be a vote on an amendment that severely limits abortion coverage in a new government-run insurance plan and through private insurance that is bought using government subsidies.
After a back-room fight last night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to allow the amendment proposed by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI). It reads:
The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.
If you are reading this on Saturday, stop. Call your representatives and tell them this amendment is unacceptable. Go, now. We’ll wait. [Update: See this list of 11 representatives who are on the fence. These members, in particular, need to hear from you.]
It looks likes the amendment has enough votes to pass may be a close vote, and lawmakers need to know that a health care bill that tosses out a legal medical procedure used by millions of women every year is unacceptable.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein writes:
The amendment is expected to pass with relative ease. Republicans will join with anti-choice Democrats to push it over the finish line. Once the amendment passes, the bill is cleared for a vote, and all parties expect that vote to succeed. Today looks likely to end with a historic, and important, vote. A vote that is a first step towards helping read than 30 million people secure health-care coverage, and making sure hundreds of millions are better protected from the vagaries of the insurance industry. But Stupak’s amendment is a bitter start. It is, however, not the end. Even if it muscles into the House bill, it will also have to pass in the Senate, and then survive conference, before it becomes law.
Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky told C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” that she’ll vote for the bill’s passage today, even with the Stupak amendment, but would opposed the final bill if the amendment survives the conference committee.
“If that language were in the final final bill, I certainly couldn’t support it,” Schakowsky said.
Plus: This morning, members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus went to the microphone, one by one, to explain how the overall health care bill would benefit women. Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia responded with a stream of “I object. I object. I object.” It got ugly.
Here’s a five-minute video showing what went down; if you’re short for time, below is the “I object” mashup created by Media Matters.