Friday October 1, 2010

Abortion, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Feature in Lame-Duck Bill

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 1, 2010 ( – U.S. Congressional Democrats have planned out an ambitious lame-duck session for November and December, with a repeal of both the 1993 law barring homosexuals from military service and another prohibiting abortions from being performed on U.S. military bases.

The Hill, a Congressional newspaper, reports that those items are on the table with 20 other measures that Democrat leaders plan to ram through Congress in 6 weeks – that is, if they also take off the usual week for Thanksgiving.

Senate Democrats failed ten days ago to muster the 60 votes necessary to overcome a GOP filibuster spearheaded by US Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of the $726 billion defense authorization bill that would have repealed the Pentagon policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and would have allowed surgical abortions on US military bases.

Current U.S. Code prohibits Department of Defense facilities from performing abortions except in cases of rape, incest, and risk to the life of the mother. Top conservative groups including the Family Research Council, the Susan B. Anthony List, and the American Family Association have warned that the FY2011 spending bill would effectively “turn every U.S. military hospital in the world into an abortion clinic.”

However, Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.), evidently seeing that the bill was headed for defeat, switched his vote and cast it with the Republicans. The move was a procedural tactic, which under the Senate rules gave him the opportunity to bring up the matter at a later time.

Democrat leaders – who failed to enact a federal budget this year – will have only until the end of December to hurry the rest of their bills through Congress. Once the new Congress is inaugurated in January, all bills from the previous Congress are considered dead.

The lame-duck also gives Congressional Democrat leaders a possible advantage: those members voted out of office, serving the rest of their term in the lame-duck, may find it easier to approve controversial legislation without having to pay any political consequences.

On the other hand, Republicans are counting on three Senate races in West Virginia, Delaware, and Illinois that could bury any plans Democrats have for the lame-duck session. Each of those Senate races also involves a special election, the winner of which will be seated immediately to finish out the term in addition to commencing his own term with the new Congress in January.

The races in Illinois and Delaware will decide who will take the Senate seats vacated by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden respectively. The latest Rasmussen survey shows Illinois GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk leading with 44 percent of the vote, with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias right behind at 41 percent.

In Delaware, Rasmussen reports pro-life Republican Christine O’Donnell (40 percent) lags behind pro-abortion Democrat challenger Chris Coons (49 percent).

In West Virginia, the winner of that Senate race will fill out the remainder of the late Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd’s term.

Rasmussen also shows GOP contender John Raese just edging out popular Democrat governor Joe Manchin, leading 48 percent to 46 percent. Both candidates in the race are pro-life and endorsed by the state right-to-life committee. (see coverage)

See related coverage by

GOP Leads Democrat in Pro-Life Senate Race for West Virginia

Obama Says Teachings of Jesus Christ ‘Spoke to Me,’ then Defends Abortion

Republicans Block Repeal of Military Gay, Abortion Bans

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