Anti-abor­tion pro­vi­sions in health bill in jeop­ardy

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

WASH­ING­TON: The Se­nate par­lia­men­tar­ian added a new com­pli­ca­tion to Repub­li­can hopes for their floun­der­ing health care bill, rul­ing the GOP would need to win an all-buti-mpos­si­ble 60 votes to re­tain anti-abor­tion pro­vi­sions in the mea­sure, Democrats said late Fri­day.

Democrats said the par­lia­men­tar­ian de­cided an­other pro­vi­sion pro­vid­ing Med­i­caid sav­ings for up­state New York coun­ties would also need 60 votes to sur­vive. Democrats said they be­lieved that means other bill lan­guage ben­e­fit­ing Alaska and other states - which Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell put into the leg­is­la­tion to try win­ning sup­port from those states’ sen­a­tors - is in jeop­ardy.

Repub­li­cans con­tested Democrats’ de­scrip­tion, say­ing the par­lia­men­tar­ian’s views were guid­ance only. They said the leg­is­la­tion’s word­ing was sub­ject to change as lead­ers work be­hind the scenes to win over GOP sen­a­tors, and said ef­forts would con­tinue to craft the pro­vi­sions in ways that would pass par­lia­men­tary muster. Repub­li­cans have a 52-48 Se­nate ma­jor­ity, and at least one Repub­li­can said late Fri­day that the GOP is short of the votes to move ahead with Sen. John McCain in Ari­zona deal­ing with brain can­cer.

“With­out John McCain, we don’t have 50 peo­ple to take that vote,” Sen. James Lank­ford of Ok­la­homa said at the Western Con­ser­va­tive Sum­mit in Den­ver. Democrats have been uni­fied in op­pos­ing the GOP re­peal ef­fort. Few Democrats would be ex­pected to join them to re­tain anti-abor­tion pro­vi­sions, and none would likely side with the GOP to re­tain the state-spe­cific lan­guage. That means it seems cer­tain Repub­li­cans would fall short of reach­ing 60 votes.

Repub­li­cans have said they plan to be­gin vot­ing on their health care leg­is­la­tion Tues­day. That might be de­layed if McCon­nell, R-Ky., is still hunt­ing GOP votes. “The par­lia­men­tar­ian’s guid­ance helps in­form us as we write leg­is­la­tion be­fore go­ing to the floor,” said Eric Ue­land, Repub­li­can staff di­rec­tor of the Se­nate Bud­get Com­mit­tee. “We look for­ward to con­tin­ued prepa­ra­tions for votes next week.”

One abor­tion pro­vi­sion in jeop­ardy would block fed­eral pay­ments to Planned Par­ent­hood for a year. An­other would for­bid in­di­vid­u­als and small busi­nesses from us­ing the bill’s health care tax cred­its to buy poli­cies that cover abor­tion. The abor­tion pro­vi­sions are im­por­tant for con­ser­va­tives. It is un­clear what they would do if that lan­guage was re­moved from the bill.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said the rul­ing on the New York lan­guage “will greatly tie the ma­jor­ity leader’s hands as he tries to win over re­luc­tant Repub­li­cans with state-spe­cific pro­vi­sions. We will chal­lenge every one of them.” Sen Bernie San­ders, I-Vt, said the way Repub­li­cans wrote the bill is “a disas­ter,” adding, “It is time for the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship to junk this bill.”

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