The Associated Press raised a lot of eyebrows today with this piece, implying that negotiations over the abortion provision in the Senate health care bill had fallen apart.
“House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama’s health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats,” they reported.
Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the leadership will press ahead without reworking the abortion provision, which opponents say falls short in restricting taxpayer dollars for abortion coverage. He predicted some of the anti-abortion lawmakers in the party will end up voting for the overhaul anyway.
Clearly abortion discussions are at a bit of an impasse. Leadership has almost no leeway to accommodate changes to the Senate health care bill’s abortion provision, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)–the pro-life congressman who’s threatening to walk away from health care reform unless his demands are met–hasn’t backed down. But here’s what Waxman told reporters this morning outside a meeting of the Democratic caucus.
“[Stupak]’s a member of my committee and a friend of mine and we’re continuing to talk, he and I,” Waxman said.
But most members feel that the abortion issue was dealt with in the Senate-passed bill….
Ironically, what we have is a situation on abortion which neither side is now particularly happy about and so I don’t now how we’ll resolve it but we’ll keep looking….
We just have to all stay open and keep talking until we see where we end up….
There are many people who share his views who are voting for this bill. They feel strongly about the pro-life position but they feel like the Senate bill encompasses a compromise that they can accept in this legislation and they’re willing to go forward with it. There are some who take a different view and we hope to convince them to join us and they hope to us to make them concessions.
Obviously it’s possible that Democratic leaders will tell Stupak to take it or leave it. But it doesn’t seem like that’s happened yet.