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Democrats face challenge in merging health bills

New York Times, December 22, 2009

Even as the Senate took a significant step toward passing its version of a sweeping overhaul of the health insurance system before Christmas, Democrats were grappling with deep internal divisions over abortion, the issue that most complicates their drive to merge the Senate and House bills and send final legislation to President Obama. In the House, advocates and opponents of abortion rights and conservative Democrats have made clear that they object, for different reasons, to the Senate's compromise language on abortion. Interest groups on both sides of the spectrum also oppose the abortion provision in the Senate bill, leaving Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a challenge in rounding up the votes she needs in the House. Pelosi's room for maneuvering is limited because any changes to the language in the Senate bill could unravel the deal that provided Democrats with the 60 votes they need to get the legislation through the Senate.