House Leaders deny up-or-down vote on single-payer, allow a vote on blocking abortion funding

If you've been following the announcements coming out about the healthcare debate over the past two days they have certainly included some mixed messages. A couple of days ago I received an email from PDA (Progressive Democrats of America) excited that Speaker Pelosi was going to allow a 20 minute floor debate on Rep. Weiner's single-payer amendment followed by an up-or-down vote. We were encouraged to put together action plans for our readers.

From the email:

Last night PDA got word from Congressman Weiner’s office that Speaker Pelosi is keeping her promise to allow the Weiner single-payer amendment full debate and vote on the floor of the House. This will happen on Friday or Saturday.

After nearly being shut out of the discussion completely, single-payer Medicare for All is being heard in the corridors of power. This is the one opportunity for your Congress member to go on record as supporting the only universal, comprehensive, cost-effective solution to the health care crisis. [original emphasis]

Yesterday, we received an update telling us the floor vote had been cancelled and to stop calling our representatives immediately.

Early this morning, we learned that Rep. Weiner pulled his amendment and that there will be no vote on Medicare for All.

Please, do not make any further calls to Congress asking members to support the Weiner amendment. [original emphasis]

Look for an email from the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare later today explaining this sudden development.

The Leadership Conference indeed followed up with an explanation.

On the eve of what could have been the first vote on single-payer legislation in our nation’s history, because of last minute developments, the vote and debate on Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment will not happen. Speaker Pelosi received a statement from Rep. Kucinich and Rep. Conyers, the co-authors of HR 676, that they do not think that this is the right time for a vote on national single-payer legislation. They made this statement despite the extensive mobilization in support of this vote across the country. In addition, Speaker Pelosi felt that offering a single-payer amendment would open the floodgates to amendments proposed to limit abortion funds, restrict immigrant access to health care and other regressive legislation.

That explanation falls more than a bit short now that we find out that those floodgates were opened anyway and there will now be an up-or-down floor vote on an amendment to ban abortion funding.

From The Hill:

House Democratic leaders will allow an up-or-down vote on an amendment blocking any money in its healthcare overhaul from funding abortions, risking the votes of members who support abortion rights.

Anti-abortion Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) had told a bleary-eyed Rules committee panel that a deal struck earlier in the day to move forward on the issue was off.

According to The Hill article (using common sense works here as well) liberal Democrats may not support the healthcare bill if it includes the block on abortion funding.

I'm sure there is some special reason why a progressive amendment was pulled and a conservative amendment is being allowed. Maybe House Leadership feared that too many Representatives would prefer the single payer plan casting doubt on the strength of the current bill. Maybe House Leadership thinks that some moderate Democrats who plan to vote against the healthcare bill will vote against the abortion block amendment taking a little of the heat off. Whatever the reason, conservatives are getting their vote and progressives have been shut down.


Actually, the whole bill has become a cave-in to the ...

'corporate' gang. The public option will only help the poorest, and other disadvantaged. But it delivers to the insurance racketeers the 'mandatory' coverage. But this will not be the final bill for the president's signature. I have a feeling if they don't make it more inclusive, the progressives will shoot it down. So we'll see if it survives the first go-around, and then we'll have to see what the Senate hatches.

Conyers and Kucinich's explanation

The single-payer forces don't want to have a test vote on a single-payer amendment that will not pass because it would be read as the death of single-payer.

Getting the current bill into law now can help toward single-payer when the composition or tone of Congress changes.

That was the reasoning. I don't know whether Wiener agrees with this move or not.

50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

He willingly withdrew

but I haven't heard any quotes from him.

I simply found it infuriating that within hours of receiving news that Speaker Pelosi said that allowing the vote on the Weiner amendment would open the floodgates to other amendments - especially those targeting abortion funding - just to find the amendment blocking abortion funding was allowed. I can understand the reasoning offered by Reps. Kucinich and Conyers. I was simply hoping to see this vote as part of the current bill.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I have to say this on "abortion funding"

If there is a public option, it should include funding for those that "choose" to abort an unborn child. I know the religious-right's reasoning for this, but in America, abortion (to be able to choose that option) is legal. People that do not want to choose that option can choose not to choose that option. However, if there is a publically funded source of medical care offered and someone chooses that source of care, it only stands to reason that they should have the choice to have a legal procedure up to and including abortion. To me, if someone does not want that option or has a problem with a medical public option offering that option, they can then choose not to be on the public option. We have to get past basing what our government offers to our citizens on religious views. That seems to go against everything the founding fathers meant when they put the "church & state" provision in place to begin with.

If we only funded what everyone in our country agreed with, we wouldn't fund anything. Think about it.