Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.), one of the staunchest anti-abortion-rights Democrats in the House, said Wednesday he will now back the health care overhaul.
Oberstar supported the original House health care bill that passed last fall and had been one of the Democratic holdouts to the Senate-passed plan because of its language on abortion. He is the latest Democrat to publicly lend support for reform.
Oberstar told reporters that he has been studying the Senate language on abortion funding and believes that it is consistent with the Hyde amendment banning federal funding for the procedure.
The language in the Senate bill, the Nelson language, prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion as the Hyde language, and it does what we want it to do, Oberstar said.
Oberstar has in the past proposed a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions except to save the life of the mother.
Oberstars support continues to undermine the position of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), another anti-abortion-rights Democrat who is demanding changes to the abortion language, charging that it will fund the procedure.
Democratic leaders, however, note that abortion coverage under the Senate bill would have to be paid for by women using their own money and sending in separate checks. And they have noted that even if they wanted to change the language, Republicans in the Senate have vowed to block any changes to the language.
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.