Sen. Mike Rounds said he wants to ensure that money in a bill intended to stabilize Obamacare doesn't go toward abortions, a major concern of anti-abortion groups.
Anti-abortion groups say the bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., does not include federal protections to ensure that Obamacare insurer payments aren't used to fund abortion services. Some House Republicans, already skeptical of supporting legislation to help Obamacare, cited the issue as reason for opposing the legislation.
“I am pro-life and I don’t want any of it being used for abortion services,” the South Dakota Republican, who has been selling his colleagues on the bill, said Wednesday.
The bill would provide cost-sharing reduction payments to Obamacare insurers for two years, reimbursing them for a requirement to reduce co-pays and deductibles for low-income Obamacare customers. The legislation also gives states wider latitude to waive certain Obamacare insurer regulations.
Anti-abortion groups oppose the legislation. The reason is that the bill does not include the Hyde amendment, a spending measure that prevents federal funds from going toward abortion services.
“We are strongly opposed to Obamacare stabilization funding unless amended so such funds cannot be used for plans that include elective abortion,” according to a letter signed by 67 anti-abortion groups sent to Congress this week.
Rounds said the authors of Alexander-Murray didn't believe the funding could be used for abortion services and clarifying the issue could help sell the bill to Republicans.
“If we can clarify that and get it cleared up, that would make it a whole lot easier for a lot of conservatives and pro-life members to support it,” he said.
But Murray, the Democratic author of the legislation, opposes the change.
"We are not gonna put Hyde in," she said Wednesday.
In the Senate, Republicans would need support from Democrats to reach the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.
Senate Republicans have more time to sell the bill to a skeptical House GOP. Alexander and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced that they would not seek to add the bill to a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government until Jan. 19.
The current funding bill expires Dec. 22.