Jewish Journal

Abortion deal reached; House passes health care bill

by Brad A. Greenberg

March 21, 2010 | 8:57 pm

Health care reform passed the House today after Democrats got the pro-life wing of the party on board by prohibiting federal funding for abortion:

By a vote of 219 to 212, the House passed the bill after a day of tumultuous debate that echoed the epic struggle of the last year. The action sent the bill to President Obama, whose crusade for such legislation has been a hallmark of his presidency.

Democrats hailed the votes as historic, comparable to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security and a long overdue step forward in social justice. “This is the civil rights act of the 21st century,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House.

After a year of partisan combat and weeks of legislative brinksmanship, House Democrats and the White House clinched their victory only hours before the voting started on Sunday. They agreed to a deal with opponents of abortion rights within their party to reiterate in an executive order that federal money provided by the bill could not be used for abortions, giving the Democrats the final votes. Democrats said that in expanding access to health coverage for uninsured Americans, they were creating a new program every bit as important as Social Security and Medicare, while also putting downward pressure on rising health care costs and reining in federal budget deficits.

Republicans said the plan would saddle the nation with unaffordable levels of debt, leave states with expensive new obligations, weaken Medicare and give the government a huge new role in the health care system.

The debate on the legislation has highlighted the deep partisan and ideological divides in the nation and set up a bitter midterm Congressional election campaign, with Republicans promising an effort to repeal it or block its provisions in the states.

I’ve seen a lot of distraught tweets this evening, on both sides of the political spectrum.

From the left, Jewschooler Daniel Sieradski:

omfg are they really hinging their opposition on abortion? what planet are we on?

And from the right, Tabitha Hale:

I’m done. Goodbye freedom.

Frankly, I think everyone is being a bit dramatic over the health care overhaul. I may be naively optimistic on the power of big government to fix a failure of the market—my self-employed, healthy and relatively young parents pay something like $950 a month—but this is not the end of America as we know it.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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