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Democratic Chairmen Won't Guarantee They'll Support Keeping Pro-Life Language In Final Health Care Bill

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

On the House floor today during debate on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill to impose a government takeover of health care, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) challenged the three Democratic committee chairmen with jurisdiction over the bill to pledge that they will vote to keep a pro-life amendment authored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) in the bill during House-Senate conference negotiations if the Pelosi bill is approved today with the Stupak amendment attached. Disappointingly, all three Democratic chairmen have refused to guarantee they will oppose efforts to strip the Stupak language from the bill in conference committee. As Robert Costa observed accurately this evening in a post entitled "Three Strikes" on National Review's "Doctor! Doctor!" blog, "Now the GOP strategy is clear: make the Dems never forget Stupak if PelosiCare passes tonight."

Here is a chronology of Leader Boehner's exchanges with the Democratic committee chairmen throughout the day:

2:35 PM: Chairman Waxman Won't Guarantee That Speaker Pelosi's Final Health Bill Will Include Stupak Anti-Abortion Language

In an exchange this afternoon on the House Floor, Congressman Boehner asked Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) if he would guarantee abortion opponents that Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-MI) amendment barring federal funding of abortion in Speaker Pelosi's government takeover of health care will not be jettisoned from the bill by Democratic congressional leaders in House-Senate conference negotiations if the Pelosi bill passes the House with the Stupak amendment attached.

Chairman Waxman's answer? "No guarantee can be made by me or any other Member at this time."

A transcript of the exchange follow:

BOEHNER: "I want to ask the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Waxman, whether he can guarantee me that if the House does vote in fact for Mr. Stupak's amendment, the gentleman will guarantee me that when this bill comes back from conference that that language will remain in the bill?"WAXMAN: "As the gentleman well knows, the decision is not up to one person. It will be up to the conferees and the conferees will have to be meeting with the Senate conferees in going over a number of positions but if this amendment is adopted by the House, it will be the House position as we go into conference. We will have to discuss it further. We will have to discuss it further and then see what the result is. No guarantee can be made by me or any other Member at this time."

4:45PM: Chairman Rangel Won't Guarantee That Speaker Pelosi's Final Health Bill Will Include Stupak Anti-Abortion Language

In an exchange during debate over in Speaker Pelosi's government takeover of health care, Congressman Boehner asked Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) if he would guarantee abortion opponents that Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-MI) amendment barring federal funding of abortion will not be jettisoned from the bill by Democratic congressional leaders in House-Senate conference negotiations if the Pelosi bill passes the House with the Stupak amendment attached.

The answer was similar to the one Chairman Waxman gave earlier. Chairman Rangel said: "We have no idea that you would expect that a member…that you expect me on this floor in front of all my friends and colleagues to guarantee you anything."

A transcript of the exchange follow:

BOEHNER: "One of the issues in the underlying bill allows for taxpayer funding of abortions. And the leadership of the Majority party did see fit to allow Mr. Stupak from Michigan and others to offer an Amendment that would restore what has been a 30-year effort that no taxpayer funds should be used And if that amendment were to pass, Mr. Rangel, do I have your guarantee that when this bill comes back from committee that if the house does, in fact, pass the Stupak language outlawing taxpayer funding for abortion, will you guarantee me that it will be in the bill?" RANGEL: "You have been here long enough to truly understand how our system works. As soon as we pass this bill, then we would expect the Democratic-controlled senate to pass their bill….We have no idea that you would expect that a member…that you expect me on this floor in front of all my friends and colleagues to guarantee you anything."

7:20 PM: Chairman Miller Won't Guarantee That Speaker Pelosi's Final Health Bill Will Include Stupak Anti-Abortion Language

This evening, Congerssman Boehner again took to the floor to ask Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) if he would guarantee abortion opponents that Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-MI) amendment barring federal funding of abortion will not be jettisoned from the bill by Democratic congressional leaders in House-Senate conference negotiations if the Pelosi bill passes the House with the Stupak amendment attached.

Chairman Miller's answer - "I will not guarantee that" - makes him the third Democratic Chairman today to refuse to guarantee that the Democratic Leadership would support Rep. Stupak's pro-life amendment if it passes the House and makes it into conference.

A transcript of the exchange follow:

BOEHNER: "If the House is to pass the Stupak amendment and this bill is to pass tonight and there is a vote in the conference committee on this issue, would you guarantee me that you will support the House-passed bill?"

The answers follow: MILLER: "I will NOT guarantee that."


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