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Senate to Postpone Abortion Amendment

The Senate will likely be debating a controversial amendment on reimporting prescription drugs this weekend, rather than an equally contentious proposal to strengthen the bill’s prohibition on federal funding of abortion.Though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said earlier Thursday that he hoped to have a Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) amendment on abortion up in the next day or so, Nelson said he has not yet finished drafting the measure.But Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said Reid called him Thursday to tell him that his proposal to allow lower-cost prescription drugs to be reimported from other countries would likely come up for debate Friday or Saturday. Reid has said the Senate would be in session both Saturday and Sunday to continue to work through amendments to the health care measure.In the interim, the Senate may debate a Democratic Sense of the Senate resolution regarding fiscal responsibility. It was not immediately clear what amendment the Republicans may pursue next.Republicans who have been working with Nelson to craft the abortion proposal said they have felt rushed by the effort to bring the amendment up this week.“To do really good legislation, you need to make sure people who agree with you are on board and the outside groups feel good about it,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is considering co-sponsoring Nelson’s amendment. “There’s a lot of work that I need to do and that he needs to do. But he’s being rushed into this.”Nelson said neither he nor Reid have been trying to hasten the debate.Asked whether he believed Reid’s calculation was to bring up the measure before anti-abortion rights groups had a chance to review it, Nelson said, “No, not at all. [Reid] wanted to get it into the queue and moving forward. ... I didn’t think he was trying to rush something through at all, nor was I.”Still, Nelson said he was eager to get the abortion debate over with so he could focus on his other concerns about the bill, such as the public insurance option. “I’m anxious to get moving on it, to get it done so I can move on and work on some other things as well,” he said.

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