While Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) did his best to convince reporters on Saturday that his deal on abortion funding language in a new Democratic health amendment would end controversy on that issue, it seems far from over, and will likely spice up House-Senate negotiations on health care.
All eyes quickly went to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), who won tough abortion funding language in a showdown with House Democratic leaders back in November.
He was not impressed.
“While I appreciate the efforts of all the parties involved, especially Senator Ben Nelson, the Senate abortion language is not acceptable,” Stupak said in a statement.
Stupak labeled the Senate language a “dramatic shift in federal policy” that he says would let the feds subsidize abortion coverage through insurance policies.
At some point, negotiators will have to take another crack at this, for a final bill that would go before the House and Senate, a point clearly noted by Stupak.
“I look forward to working with members of the House, Senate and the Obama Administration to find common ground on this issue and draft language that guarantees continuation of current law of no public funding for abortion, ” Stupak added.
This is just one of the issues that will confront negotiators. Another big one will be how to pay for health care reforms, as the House and Senate have very different solutions.
If enough Democrats stick with Stupak in the House, the abortion issue could well tip the scales against the White House.
We’ll see. This will be one of the big issues in House-Senate negotiations, but most of the people who are pro-life will not be at the table.