The Corner

Hoyer’s Abortion Gambit

In the Washington Post this morning, I explain how Speaker Pelosi plans to game the Stupak 12 on health-care reconciliation. The problem is that there is no way to fix the abortion provision Stupak and his allies oppose in reconciliation because any fix is likely to be ruled “extraneous” by the Senate parliamentarian.

The Hill is now reporting that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has come up with an alternative approach. Hoyer says that Democrats may try to pass separate legislation that would assuage the concerns of Stupak and his pro-life colleagues:

“Separate pieces of legislation could be passed that would relate to that,” Hoyer told reporters after a meeting with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) “That’s a possibility. I talked to Mr. Stupak today, and I’m going to be talking to him next week and he indicated he wanted to have some discussions with people.

What Hoyer does not explain is precisely how he plans to get 60 votes in the Senate to pass this separate legislation. The only reason Democratic leaders are going the reconciliation route is because they do not have 60 votes — reconciliation allows them to pass health-care legislation with a simple majority of 51. But any separate legislation fixing the abortion provisions would require 60 votes in the Senate. Which means Hoyer’s gambit won’t work any better than the reconciliation strategy.

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