Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Senate Rejects Abortion Amendment

From Shailagh Murray at The Washington Post:
The Senate narrowly rejected an amendment that would have restricted abortion coverage in the pending health-care bill, leaving in question whether Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) has the 60 votes needed to move the bill toward final passage.

The measure, which failed 54-45, addressed the scope of restrictions on coverage of abortion services for people who receive subsidies to buy insurance. The outcome was expected, but could cost the support of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who has threatened to filibuster the $848 billion bill unless abortion restrictions are tightened.

Reid told reporters earlier Tuesday afternoon he would consider other language to allay Nelson's concerns. "If in fact he doesn't succeed here, we'll try something else," Reid said.

The vote came amid intense final negotiations on the bill, as Reid aims to wrap up debate on amendments and begin a long procedural stand-off with Republicans -- possibly extending 10 days -- before the bill can come to a final vote before Christmas.

Nelson also is participating in talks to establish an alternative to the public insurance option, and said he would continue to negotiate with Reid and his colleagues on the overall bill. "People are talking," he said before the abortion vote. "And that's usually a good thing."

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