From NBC's Ken Strickland
Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson today filed an amendment to the Senate health-care bill that places strict restrictions on federal funds going toward abortion services. The amendment is co-sponsored by fellow Democrat Bob Casey and eight Republicans.
"As written, the Senate health-care bill allows taxpayer dollars, directly and indirectly, to pay for insurance plans that cover abortion. Most Nebraskans, and Americans, do not favor using public funds to cover abortion and as a result this bill shouldn't open the door to do so," Nelson said in written statement that was just released.
Nelson says his amendment mirrors the provision in the House-passed bill offered by Rep. Bart Stupak. Both measures expand the current government prohibition of federal funds for abortions. Nelson says his measure ensures "that no federal funds are used to pay for abortion in the health-care reform legislation currently being considered."
According to his written statement, "The amendment would prohibit the use of the affordability tax credits to purchase a health insurance policy that covers abortion along with prohibiting federal funding for abortion under the community health insurance option."
The Republican Senate co-sponsors are Orrin Hatch, Sam Brownback, John Thune, Mike Enzi, Tom Coburn, Mike Johanns, David Vitter, and John Barrasso.
Abortion-rights supporters in the Senate say they are confident they have the votes to defeat Nelson amendment. And Thune predicted as much at a health-care news conference earlier today.
*** UPDATE *** According to leadership aides, debate over this amendment will likely begin tonight, and the vote will take place tomorrow.