House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday he believes House leaders can get the votes for President Barack Obamas health care reform package without changing the abortion language in the Senate bill.Hoyer was asked about comments from Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in an Associated Press story that House leaders had decided to press ahead without changing the abortion restrictions. A group of anti-abortion-rights Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) has been threatening to kill the bill over the issue.I dont know that weve made a collective judgment on it, but I think his comments are accurate that we believe its not possible to do it through reconciliation, Hoyer said.But he contended they could get the votes anyway.Were working at it and I think the answer is yes, I think we can, he said. We havent yet, but because we dont have a product yet. Were not through finally putting the reconciliation package together and until we do that, its really unrealistic to ask a Member what you are going to do.Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Waxman and other top House Democrats have argued vociferously that the Senate compromise language agreed to by pro- and anti-abortion-rights Senate Democrats continues the ban on federal funding of abortions. However, Stupak and the Catholic bishops contend the Senate package is inadequate because it allows women who receive federal subsidies to buy insurance policies covering abortions. The women would have to use their own money to cover the abortion coverage in their insurance and send separate checks to the insurance company to do so.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.