Senate Confronts Abortion in HC Debate

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WASHINGTON - As President Barack Obama leans on Senate Democrats to pass healthcare reform, Republicans are still fighting the bill saying the public wants no part of the legislation.

Several roadblocks stand in the way of healthcare reform to the delight of opponents and the dismay of supporters.

"Republicans are being destructive," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., charged. "They want this to be, as one senator said, President Obama's Waterloo, and it is not going to be."

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Obama's Pep Talk

The Senate will continue to work through the weekends, trying to pass a healthcare bill before the end of the year.

On Sunday, they got a visit from Obama who pressed his former colleagues to push health care across the finish line.

Reid said the president urged the Democrats-only gathering to act now but with the future in mind.

"People are going to look back at what this Congress did and each time they see a child being able to go to the doctor when they are sick or hurt, seeing someone that just because they lose their job they don't lose their insurance. Seeing someone who gets diabetes doesn't mean a lifetime of not being able to get insurance. That's what this legislation is all about," Reid said.

GOP: President Reneged on Campaign Pledge

However, Republicans see things differently saying the president reneged on his campaign pledge of bipartisanship and transparency -- and complained of feeling shut out.

"The president's coming to rally our Democratic friends to basically do it a 'my way or the highway' sort of way," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.

The effort to corral 60 votes to pass the bill is proving to be a difficult task. Republicans remain nearly unified in their opposition.

"When the American people think about reform, they're thinking about something that drives their health care costs down, not up," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., added, "All the surveys indicate the American people do not want us to pass this bill."

A House Divided

Meanwhile, Democrats are divided on two key issues: abortion funding and a government-run public health insurance option.

"There can't just be a purely private approach," Sen. Russ Feingol, D-Wis., insisted. "We have to have some competition for the insurance industry."

A new idea under consideration is the creation of national non-profit insurance plans administered by the federal office of personnel management. Details are still being hammered out.

Abortion funding, the other controversial issue, is expected take center stage this week.

Anti-abortion supporters want to follow the House's lead and adopt stricter language that would prevent taxpayer money from being used to pay for abortions in the healthcare bill.

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