(John Shadegg) – Saturday night the House of Representatives voted on a government takeover of health care. I want to make sure you have the full story on the votes that took place and why I voted as I did.
As you know, I voted “No” on the final passage of the bill and would have voted “Hell No” had it been an option. There was another critical vote Saturday night. The original language of the bill allowed for federal funding of abortions. Representative Bart Stupak (MI) offered an amendment to prohibit government-funded abortions.
I was the only Republican member to vote “present” on the Stupak Amendment. I did so because I am passionately pro-life but also passionately pro-freedom.
I believe the Stupak amendment gave political cover to Democrats who voted for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Pelosi is anti-freedom and rabidly pro-abortion and is certainly no friend of Life. She outsmarted opponents of socialized medicine.
Before the vote, she promised pro-abortion Democrats she would strip the Stupak language in Conference. Obama will help her. She will strip the Stupak amendment in Conference and pass the bill with the votes of Democrats who claim to be pro-life.
I will explain:
Republicans who, at the request of Right to Life, in good faith, voted “yes” on Stupak Saturday night defined a “yes” vote as the pro-life vote. It wasn’t. A “yes” vote served to increase the votes for the bill, enabling Pelosi to pass it. That means more abortions.
We didn’t have to help Nancy Pelosi.
Republicans could have said “present” means “present”. It doesn’t mean “yes” and it doesn’t mean “no.” Members of Congress have three choices when they go to vote. A vote of “present” is a protest vote.
We should have refused to let Nancy Pelosi force us to choose between “Life” and “Freedom.” It was a false choice and we didn’t have to fall for it.
If Republicans had voted “present” as a group, since we are the party of Life, we would have defined the “present” vote as the pro-life vote. Doing so would have denied the purported pro-life Democrats cover.
Given the extremely narrow passage of the bill, it is highly likely that without the Stupak language, it would have been defeated. Instead, it passed by five votes when there are far more than five Democrats who almost certainly wouldn’t have voted for it with government funded abortions in it! I believe it likely that neither Driehaus nor Hill nor Wilson nor Mollohan nor Ellsworth nor Donnelly nor perhaps numerous others would have.
PelosiCare would have been dead, and along with it, the threat of publicly funded abortions! We should have defeated Nancy Pelosi!
The truth is you cannot be both pro-life and pro-Pelosi.
If I am wrong and the bill hadn’t failed, it remains absolutely clear the vote on passage would have been closer. One of the five votes was Republican: Cao. He stated that he only voted “yes” because Stupak passed.
The Democrats who voted for Stupak will say the “Right to Life” vote was on Stupak and they voted pro-life.
Republicans let this be the standard. Instead of making “present” a pro-life vote, we made “yes” the pro-life vote.
Please take a moment to think about that. When the Stupak language is stripped in Conference (and Nancy Pelosi will strip it) the “pro-life” Democrats will be pressured by Pelosi and Obama to vote “yes” on the Conference report more than ever. When Pelosi and Obama are in their final press to enact the bill into law they will assure the purportedly “pro-life” Democrats they’re in good standing with Right to Life because they voted for the Stupak amendment.
For true pro-lifers to stop the Conference Report after the Stupak language has been stripped will be almost impossible. I pray we can, but am fearful that Saturday night was our best chance to stop the advancement of socialism in America.
At a minimum, Republicans should have met and discussed their strategy. Unfortunately, they did not! They, instead, helped Nancy Pelosi pass her bill without a conversation. As a result, they gave the pro-life Democrats, who voted for Pelosi as Speaker, political cover.
Nancy Pelosi caught Republicans off guard. Wrongly, they had believed she would not allow a vote on Stupak. When she did, we shouldn’t have fallen into the trap. The pro-freedom anti-socialism vote—and the pro-life vote—was to vote against Nancy Pelosi and her pro-abortion strategy!
The strategy of my “present” vote has been the subject of much discussion. It is my understanding that both Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin discussed it on their radio shows today. The following post from National Review Online explains the theory further and I have included a quote from Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy. As always, I appreciate your support and encourage you to continue the fight against a government takeover of our health care.
(Rep. Shadegg is a Republican Congressman from Arizona)