Vice President Joseph Biden, a practicing Catholic, is using his faith and his position to try and help convince those in Congress who have fears about the health care legislation and federal funding of abortion to vote for the bill.
Biden says that he understands there’s disagreement but he has reached out to those who are worried to help convince them.
“I assured them, and this will not allow you to take any subsidized government money you get and say, with that money I'm going to go now I can go purchase an insurance plan that provides for abortions. The principle is intact,” Biden said in an interview with ABC’s Jake Tapper.
The discussion over federal funding for abortion has become a hot-button issue in the health care debate. Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak (D) has flatly said he will not vote for the legislation in its current form because it does not restrict federal funding for abortions. Stupak and others have asked for stricter language, closer to what is known as the Hyde Amendment (after former Congressman Henry Hyde, R-Ill.)
Biden says he’s always supported the Hyde amendment and he’s certain that once the bill passes the issue won’t be as toxic, even within the Catholic Church. “I'm confident even the bishops, once this bill is passed and see how it operates, are not going to have the concern any longer,” Biden told Tapper.
These are the same bishops who, during the 2008 campaign, said Biden should not receive communion over his abortion stance.
Even if Biden believes the language of the Hyde Amendment makes it into the Senate version of the bill, Stupak is not convinced. On Good Morning America Stupak said he has a different piece of legislation, ready to be introduced, that would overwhelmingly keep current law on federal funds. Stupak was asked if that bill was allowed to be introduced for a vote would he consent to voting in favor of the current Senate version. “Just for giving me the vote? No, there has to be more,” Stupak said.
Stupak’s plan is to create a bill that would in essence “correct” the current bill and update it with the language he favors that would ban federal funding for abortions. This “fix” would amend how the Senate handled the section on abortion. However, all of this would have to be done before the reconciliation process between the House and the Senate could start and President Obama would have to sign the amendment into law as well. While the procedure would probably easily pass in the House, its fate in the Senate is less certain with Hill watchers saying it would have almost no chance of passing. And the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has not indicated she is interested in going forward with this tactic.
Meanwhile, Republicans on the Hill are complaining about 11th hour “sweetheart” deals that are still in the bill and singled out language on abortion funding. House Minority Leader John Boehner said that any additional manager’s amendment to deal with the abortion language would “certainly” contain these types of deals. Boehner also said that over time these deals are what could make the bill less popular with Americans.
The House is set to vote on the legislation on Sunday morning.
- Fox News House and Senate Producers Chad Pergram and Trish Turner contributed to this report. Check out their work on their blog here.