Slate.com’s Timothy Noah offers a fascinating piece on why they think Pelosi will have a very hard time getting enough votes to pass the Senate version of the health care bill. However, in the process, Noah trots out a claim I can’t reconcile with reality:
Why not resolve the dispute by putting the Stupak amendment into the reconciliation bill? Because Senate rules won’t allow it. To be included in a reconciliation bill, a measure must have some impact on the federal budget. If Stupak and the bishops were truthful in their claim that the Stupak amendment merely preserved the Hyde amendment’s existing ban on federal funding for abortions, then the Stupak amendment would indeed affect the federal budget by stripping from the Senate bill its supposedly noxious federal funding for abortions. But the Senate bill doesn’t fund abortions. According to Nick Baumann of Mother Jones, the Congressional Budget Office affirmed before the Senate vote that its abortion language would have no budgetary effect. Therefore, a Reid spokesman told Baumann, reconciliation can’t be used to restore the Stupak amendment to health reform. (“No one thinks you can change the abortion language under reconciliation,” George Will said Feb. 28 on ABC News’ This Week. Inadvertently, this pro-life commentator was calling the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops a bunch of liars. He’s right!)
I’m not a lawyer or a politician, much less an expert in either health care or parliamentary procedure. Can anyone better versed than I am in such things help me get to the bottom of this?