Steps forward and back on the most contentious issues…

Earlier today, California Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer joined the majority of their colleagues to table an anti-abortion Nelson/Hatch amendment, 54-45. They argued the amendment, which mirrored the Stupak amendment in the House bill, would go beyond the three decade-old Hyde amendment that prohibits federal funds to be used for abortions, which continues to be encoded in the main Senate bill. The amendment was opposed by most Democrats and the two female Republican Senators from Maine, Snowe and Collins.

They made the case that the amendment would prohibit women from using their own dollars to have private plans that cover abortion services. While Senator Boxer, who managed debate for the opposition, was successful, the issue continues. Senate Nelson of Nebraska, whose vote is crucial, may require other changes. And there remains a negotiation with the House bill, which does include the Stupak amendment.

In other news… ten Senators, five progressives and five moderates & conservatives, have come up with a potential deal on the “public option.” What is it? No one knows for sure.

Here’s Senate Majority Reid’s statement:

“This has been a long journey. We have confronted many hurdles, and tonight I believe we have overcome yet another one.

I asked Senators Schumer and Pryor to work with some of the most moderate and most progressive members of our diverse caucus, and tonight they have come to a consensus.

It is a consensus that includes a public option and will help ensure the American people win in two ways: one, insurance companies will face more competition, and two, the American people will have more choices.

I know not all 10 Senators in the room agree on every single detail of this, nor will all 60 members of my caucus. But I know we all appreciate the hard work that these progressives and moderates have done to move this historic debate forward.

I want to thank Senators Schumer, Pryor, Brown, Carper, Feingold, Harkin, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Rockefeller for working together for the greater good and never losing sight of our shared goal: making it possible for every American to afford to live a healthy life.

As is long-standing practice, we do not disclose details of any proposal before the Congressional Budget Office has a chance to evaluate it. We will wait for that to happen, but in the meantime, tonight we are confident.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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