Pretty much as expected, the Senate voted 54-45, mostly on party lines, to table the healthcare amendment proposed by Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), that would create an ironclad ban on federal funding for abortion in any public option:
The amendment mirrored a provision included in the House of Representatives bill barring women who receive federal subsidies from purchasing a health insurance plan on the newly created exchange that covers abortions. Abortion foes have said this is the only way to prevent federal funding for the procedure, as required under federal law.
Here’s how the vote went:
Seven other Democrats voted in favor of Nelson’s amendment. However, two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine, opposed it.
Only one other Senate Democrat, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, had signed onto the Nelson-Hatch amendment, but Casey is tanking already:
Mr. Nelson has said that he will not vote for the underlying legislation — which would expand health coverage to millions while overhauling the insurance system — unless his position against government-funded abortion is satisfied. Mr. Casey, an anti-abortion Catholic, has maintained that he will vote for the final bill regardless, but he disagrees with the way it handles abortions in its current form.
With Casey finking out, that leaves six Democrats who voted with Nelson for the Nelson-Hatch amendment. If two of them, just two, stand with Nelson to cancel out the Collins-Snowe bloc, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s got a big problem on his hands.
Keep your fingers crossed, and if you’re at all religious, pray.