By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's inability to win any version of a public health insurance option in the evolving healthcare reform bill has some conservatives breathing a sigh of relief, though they are now planning to turn their attention to the upcoming House-Senate conference where the final bill is going to be hammered out. At issue: Will it include the House-passed language limiting abortion services?
Conservatives and antiabortion Democrats tell Whispers that they will push for the final bill to include the so-called Stupak amendment, approved by the House but rejected by the Senate, which would impose restrictions on abortions offered through a new government-run insurance plan and through private insurance that is bought using government subsidies. It's a battle that conservatives expect to win.
"Once it is in conference, [Rep. Bart] Stupak and other Democratic pro-life friends plan to dig in to put the amendment back in," said a conservative adviser to House antiabortion lawmakers.
And if they win, look for the conservatives to crow that they won the major victories in the healthcare debate. "Democrats are not getting much here—no public option, no Medicare opt-in," said the adviser.