Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s “abortion” fight in the Senate is threatening a bipartisan House bill, putting him at odds with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
She and House Speaker John Boehner are set to push a major healthcare compromise bill through the House, but Reid is opposing the bill for the same reason he’s opposing the Senate’s human trafficking bill — standard Hyde Amendment language banning federal funding of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.
“Republicans’ efforts to pick an abortion fight on the trafficking bill in addition to their efforts to add unnecessary Hyde language to the emerging doc-fix compromise has Senator Reid concerned that Republicans are trying to slowly but systematically expand the scope of the Hyde Amendment,” Reid spokesperson Adam Jentleson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
His opposition is threatening the House bill and dragging House Democrats into the Senate fight, which began suddenly after Senate Democrats voted the human trafficking bill unanimously out of committee, then accused Republicans of sneaking the abortion language into the bill. (RELATED: Dems Read Bill They’re Pushing, Suddenly Block It Over Abortion Language)
Pelosi’s deal with Boehner is a rare instance where Congress could actually solve a problem instead of kicking the can down the road. It would fix a glitch in Medicare payments to doctors, which has plagued Congress annually for decades, and require higher-income seniors to contribute more to the cost of their healthcare.
Pelosi disputes Reid’s notion that the Hyde amendment language in the bill is somehow an expansion of abortion restrictions. “I said to my colleagues this morning, ‘I would leave Congress before I voted for the codification of the Hyde language,’” she told reporters Tuesday, according to The Hill. “That’s not what this bill does.”
She found Reid’s opposition to the bill “surprising and unsettling,” and her staff were privately questioning Reid’s strategy, reported The New York Times. Members of the House pro-choice caucus also disputed the grounds for Reid’s opposition to the bill, and issued a statement of support urging other pro-choice members to vote for the bill.
“I understand Pelosi is taking this quite personally,” Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch told the Times.
The House is scheduled to vote on the healthcare bill Thursday, and is expected to pass.
It’s unclear what will happen in the Senate, where Democrats are still blocking the human trafficking bill, despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence he will delay a confirmation vote on Obama’s attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, until they allow a vote.
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