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Kaptur Urges Separate Vote on Stupak Language

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who is undecided on the health care vote, said she is urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to hold a separate vote reaffirming Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) strict language limiting abortion insurance coverage to help clear the way for passage of the reform package Sunday.

Kaptur said she’s “trying to convince her that that would be a very useful thing,” but she said Pelosi hasn’t yet signaled a willingness to consider the idea. Kaptur talked to reporters after huddling with Stupak on the House floor. “We share a similar thinking, which is that the House language should be affirmed,” she said.

Kaptur said she remains undecided on the bill and has a host of concerns beyond abortion language, but she said she is talking to leadership and trying to find a way to support the bill. “I want to be constructive,” she said. “We have to find a way to work it out.”

Kaptur suggested a separate vote sending a new bill to the Senate with the Stupak language could be sufficient, given that abortion language appears to violate the rules for reconciliation bills. “It would probably have to be a separate bill,” she said. Kaptur said she told Pelosi during an extensive face-to-face meeting on the House floor Wednesday that “I don’t want to be a problem for her,” but she has concerns about abortion and other issues, such as reimbursements for hospitals in her district.

Kaptur said the abortion issue would have been a lot easier to deal with if the health bill simply adopted the federal employee health plan rules. “Why they didn’t use that, I have no idea,” she said.

But Kaptur said she believes health care reform legislation would reduce the total number of abortions and reduce the number of premature births and birth defects by providing coverage for pregnant women.

Kaptur’s idea was rejected out of hand by supporters of abortion rights. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chairwoman of the Pro-Choice Caucus, rejected a separate vote.

“We’re not going to do that,” she said. “We don’t know it would die in the Senate. The stakes are too high.”

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