John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Damned if they do….

Posted on November 10, 2009
Damned If They Do, Damned if They Don’t

I was gone last weekend, so I wasn’t paying too much attention to the floor debate and amendment process that surrounded the health care bill.

That is why I was surprised when I saw Republicans (except for John Shaddegg) vote for an amendment that made it easier for Democrats to pass their health care bill.

My understanding of the role of the minority is to be as unhelpful as possible, especially when the majority is passing legislation that not only offends the very principles of the minority, and will bankrupt the nation to boot.

But Republicans did vote en masse for an Stupak/Pitts amendment regarding the government’s funding of abortion services. Apparently, it was scored by a key constituency of conservatives, the National Right to Life, and GOPers decided that they didn’t want to vote against them. When rumors floated that the Republicans might vote present in order to cause chaos among the Democrats, the pro-life groups shot down that option, giving the minority few other options.

As an armchair quarterback, I questioned the strategy of voting for the amendment. I even put such a question on my Facebook account. Why did we vote for the amendment if we knew it would insure passage of the underlying bill?

Such a decision seemed a bit silly to me.

Today, the decision looks a little less silly. Now, the ones who are in chaos are the Democrats. Their hard-core abortion rights supporters are livid. Forty Democrats said that they would vote against any bill that contained the Stupak/Pitts language.

The National Abortion Rights Action League said that they score bill the other way if the conference report contained such offensive language. What seemed like a smooth road to final passage now seems a lot rockier.

The Senate doesn’t seem to have much interest in taking up the issue. As Senator Reid put it, “this is a health care bill; not an abortion bill.” If the Senate doesn’t include a provision on abortion funding, it will make the choice easier (and harder). Either take the House language or they drop. Either way, they offend somebody and make it harder to pass a final bill.

The problem with having the government take over the whole health care system is that issues like abortion and illegal immigration keep popping up. This is not the slam dunk that the Democrats thought it would be.

The Daily Kos said that it will withhold funding to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because it is support 18 Democrats who voted against the health care bill. That sounds like a good plan to me. Why should the Daily Kos boys support anybody who so dislikes what the hard left is pushing?

Of course, by withholding support to their most vulnerable candidates, the lefties make it easier for the GOP to take back the House.

The problem with influence of outside groups is that they don’t want to understand how the House or the Senate really work. They just want results.

For the Democrats, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They are damned if they make concessions to pro-life Democrats, because the hard left hates them. But they are damned if they don’t make those concessions, because in that case, there will be no bill.

So, whatever decision the GOP leadership made on this debate, it seemed to work out for them.