The House of Representatives passed the Senate health care bill on Sunday 219-212, with 34 Democrats voting against the measure.
The vote was first in a series of three health care votes last night. The House voted down a GOP offer to include the pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment in the package of changes to the Senate health care bill. What was essentially a pro-life vote failed 232-199, with 21 Democrats voting with Republicans to include the pro-life language. The third vote, which passed 220-211 with 33 Democrats votes against, was on the complete package of changes to the health care bill itself and will now go to the Senate for approval.
“America took a huge step backwards today,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), a physician, said in a statement after the votes.
The most immediate backlash may be against Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who decided that he would vote for the Senate health care bill after the president agreed to issue an executive order prohibiting federal funding of abortion — an issue Stupak previously felt the Senate health care bill left unresolved. Stupak then voted against reinstituting his own amendment — to include a pro-life protection in the actual legislation — when the GOP offered him that chance Sunday on the second health care vote.
Phyllis Schlafly said in a statement that the vote on health care “will expose the myth of the ‘pro-life Democrat.” The Susan B. Anthony List was set to honor Stupak at their third annual Campaign for Life gala this week but announced Sunday evening that they will no longer do so.
“Let me be clear: any representative, including Rep. Stupak, who votes for this healthcare bill can no longer call themselves ‘pro-life,’” SBA President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Several pro-life groups say an executive order won’t supersede legislation passed by Congress and that courts will look to the legislation rather than the executive order when ruling on federally funded abortions.
Even Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) agreed during an interview on Fox News Sunday that an executive order wouldn’t supersede the legislation Congress passed.
GOP House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) came out strong against the executive order Stupak cut with the White House in exchange for a ‘yea’ vote on health care.
“[N]o Executive Order or regulation can override a statutory mandate unless Congress passes a law that prohibits federal funding from being used in this manner. Legal experts at the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, and Family Research Council have confirmed this view that if the Senate bill is signed into law, it is a statutory mandate for the new health plans to include federal funding of elective abortion,” Boehner said. “Make no mistake, a ‘yes’ vote on the Democrats’ health care bill is a vote for taxpayer-funded abortions.”
Pro-lifers weren’t the only ones upset Sunday, however. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued a statement expressing disappointment with the House’s vote.
“The House made a wrong and unfortunate decision that ignores the will of the American people,” Donohue said in the statement. “This $900 billion, 2800 page bill is not health care reform. It fails to fix what is broken and risks breaking what already works.”
Included in Donohue’s and Dannenfelser’s statements were warnings to congressmen about maintaining their seats in November’s elections.
“Through the largest issue advocacy and voter education program in our history, we will encourage citizens to hold their elected officials accountable when they choose a new Congress this November,” Donohue wrote.
Dannenfelser said her group “will work tirelessly to help defeat Members who support this legislation and make sure their constituents know exactly how they voted.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned the legislative battle is far from over on the reconciliation package.
“Senate Republicans will now do everything in our power to replace the massive tax hikes, Medicare cuts and mandates with the reforms our constituents have been calling for throughout this debate,” McConnell said in a statement after the House vote Sunday. “They [Americans] are tired of being treated more like obstacles to be overcome than constituents to be respected and heard.”