Nelson amendment expected to fall short even with GOP support


Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) said he expected that all but a few Republicans would support the Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-Neb) amendment, which would restrict access to abortions for women who receive federal subsidies.

ADVERTISEMENT
But the amendment is likely to be subject to the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, and Kyl does not expect 20 votes on the other side to back the controversial change.
 
“Most Republicans will but I don’t think that will be enough to carry it through, it’s a 60-vote margin,” Kyl told The Hill Thursday afternoon.
 
Republicans control only 40 seats, which means Nelson would have to pick up the support of at least 19 Democrats (or 18 plus one of two independents), an unlikely scenario given strong opposition from the Democratic base.
 
Liberal Democrats were confident the measure, based on an amendment Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) succeeded in adding to the House bill, would not pass the upper chamber.
 
“I don’t think Stupak is passing so I’m not worried right now, we’re going to defeat it,” said Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBarbara Boxer recounts harassment on Capitol Hill: ‘The entire audience started laughing’ 100 years of the Blue Slip courtesy Four more lawmakers say they’ve been sexually harassed by colleagues in Congress MORE (D-Calif.), one of the most outspoken Senate advocates for abortion rights.
 
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) said earlier in the day that Nelson’s amendment would be one of the next to reach the Senate floor and that his colleague was trying to round up GOP support.
 
“Whether he’s going to be joined by any Republicans, he’s waiting to find out,” Reid said.
 
But Nelson later told reporters that his amendment would not be ready for a vote until after the weekend, postponing a floor showdown over abortion rights.
 
The defeat of his amendment would be politically significant because Nelson has pledged to vote with Republicans to filibuster the health bill if it did not include the Stupak language.
 
“I’ve said at the end of the day if it doesn’t have Stupak language on abortion in it I won’t vote to move it off the floor,” Nelson told reporters.
 
Stupak’s measure would restrict women who receive federal subsidies from buying abortion coverage on insurance exchanges set up by the government.
 
Without Nelson, Democrats would need to pick up a Republican — most likely Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) or Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (Maine) — to pass the landmark bill through the Senate.
 
Liberal Democrats declined to say whether they would support a final healthcare bill that included Stupak’s language.
 
“We’ll see where we are at the end of the day but I know I’m not voting for Stupak,” said Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiClinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns Gore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere MORE (D-Md.).
 
Abortion-rights activists are not taking any chances.
 
NARAL Pro-Choice America announced Thursday afternoon that it would air television ads in markets around the country, including Maine and Virginia, criticizing Nelson and Stupak for putting a debate over abortion in the middle of the healthcare debate.
 
“Why would politicians like Bart Stupak introduce abortion into America’s healthcare debate?” asks a female narrator in the spot, which features a photo of Nelson. “Why are they trying to make it more difficult than ever before for women to buy insurance coverage for abortion in the new healthcare system … even if they use their own money?”