The Corner

Cantor: A Look Ahead

If the Senate passes its health-care bill this week, it’ll head to the House of Representatives. Once there, will Republicans have any chance of stopping it? NRO asked Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the House minority whip, for answers.

“Once in the House, it will be about what Nancy Pelosi wants to see happen,” says Cantor. “If it goes to conference, the public will have a better chance to understand what this bill means and to open up some discussion. We need to do that on a wide variety of issues, from life to the real costs inside this bill. The conference process would allow for a lot more deliberation. If not — if Speaker Pelosi tries to ram this though — that would be a real game-changer. That would be an extraordinary letdown for the American people.”

Cantor predicts that abortion would be the key issue in the House’s debate of the Senate’s bill. Pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) “has outlined very clear language” on abortion and “has made it clear that if it’s not included then he will vote against the bill,” he says. “There is a lot of reticence among many moderate Democrats. It’s unfathomable to think that pro-life Democrats would go for the Senate version. They know that the Senate’s bill is a 30-year record-breaking move to allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortion. I can’t imagine any of them supporting it.”

Cantor also notes that he’s kept a close eye on the Senate during its health-care debate. “What disappoints me is all of their deal cutting and horse trading,” he says. “They’re allocating taxpayer dollars as if those dollars belonged to the senators. It borders on immoral. Just look at the way Senator Landrieu put her vote up for sale. Senator Nelson did the same.”

Public opinion from both sides of the aisle, he adds, will be crucial going forward. “The Left knows that this bill does nothing but expand the existing system for insurance companies. The Right knows that it has nothing in terms of liability reform. In terms of a consumer health-care model, it’s an anathema to free-market conservatives. And, because it keeps insurance companies in the game, it’s also an anathema to progressives.”

For now, Cantor says he’ll be watching the 1 a.m. cloture vote at home in Richmond and rooting for his Republican colleagues in the Senate. “Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, and the rest of their team have put up deliberative, constant efforts to thwart this bill. They’re still at it.”

For more on the health-care battle, visit NRO’s “Doctor! Doctor!” blog.

Robert Costa was formerly the Washington editor for National Review.

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