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Senate Democrats Brace For Heavy Health Reform Work

The Hill reports that "Democratic leaders sent out a notice Monday morning alerting senators that when the chamber returns to session after the Thanksgiving holiday, 'roll call votes could occur at any time during the day and evening, with weekend sessions likely.'" The health bill is also likely to affect work on a climate change bill and some senators' plans to go to the climate summit in Copenhagen (Bolton, 11/23). CongressDaily: "Senate Majority Leader (Harry) Reid still aims to pass a healthcare overhaul bill by Christmas, even if it means keeping the chamber in session for most of its holiday break next month." For his part, Reid and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin have indicated some willingness to forgo their proposal to allow states to opt out of a government-run public option for health coverage in favor of one that would be triggered in states that "fail to meet a yet-determined affordability standard" in order to win more senators' votes (Edney and Friedman, 11/23).

Blogs Comment On Health Reform, Abortion Coverage, New Cancer Screening Recommendations

The following summarizes selected women's health-related blog entries. ~ "BlogTalk: Grading Obama, Abortion Flares, " Maria Newman, New York Times ' "The Caucus" : Although several aspects of the health care reform debate "will be contentious, " the Senate's bill has notably "reignited the debate in the country over abortion rights, " Newman writes. Recently, "many voters sat through thinly veiled sermons during Sunday Mass about putting pressure on their congressional representatives to keep abortion from being funded through the health care plan, " she continues. According to Newman, Eliza Newlin Carney on Monday wrote in National Journal that the "furor" of the debate "has brought fresh scrutiny to the nation's Catholic bishops, who've emerged as formidable lobbyists but who face virtually none of the lobbying or disclosure rules that apply to the rest of Washington.

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Health Debate Bears Down On Senators

The Los Angeles Times: "As one of the few senators undecided on healthcare reform, Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln faces a huge headache. Liberals attack her as an obstructionist, even though she cast a key vote keeping the effort alive. Republicans are lining up to run against her -- seven, so far, and counting. The voters here at home seem conflicted, if not downright confused. ... Of the holdouts, Lincoln may be the most politically vulnerable. "She's getting it from both sides, " said Carmie Henry, a Democratic veteran of Arkansas politics. Unhappy with her fence-sitting, the liberal group Moveon.org has targeted Lincoln with demonstrations, radio spots and mailers urging her to support the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private companies.

Senators Prepare For Upcoming Health Reform Battles

The Wall Street Journal reports that, in a party-line vote Saturday night, "Democratic leaders finally moved their sweeping health bill to the Senate floor, where wheeling and dealing over major unresolved and divisive issues likely will shape the legislation before its next big test." Some centrists are busy saying they won't support a bill with a government-run public option in it. They are also divided over abortion. And, "Another growing concern even as the bill progresses is the political heat on Democrats over expanded government spending amid rising unemployment and deficit concerns." The vote paves the way for three weeks of debate "and perhaps more in January, a struggle that is sure to color the 2010 fight for control of Congress" (Hitt and Adamy, 11/23).

Conservative Christian Leaders Issue Declaration Affirming Opposition To Abortion Rights, Other Issues

Around 150 Christian leaders, mostly conservative evangelicals and traditionalist Roman Catholics, issued a joint declaration on Friday renewing their opposition to abortion rights, same-sex marriage and other issues, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The document -- called The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience -- is signed by 15 Roman Catholic bishops, as well as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson. The declaration states that President Obama's desire to reduce the need for abortion is "a commendable goal" but that his proposals are likely to increase the number of abortions.

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Lobbying Is Up As Health Industry Examines Impact Of Reform Proposals

USA Today: "Companies and groups hiring lobbying firms on health issues nearly doubled this year as special interests rushed to shape the massive revamp of the nation's health care system now in its final stretch before Congress." As many as 1, 000 groups "have hired lobbyists since January, compared with 505 during the same period in 2008, according to a USA TODAY analysis of congressional records compiled by the nonpartisan CQ MoneyLine." They have also spent $422 million during the first nine months of the year - a 10 percent jump from 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Even a non-profit hospital in Wallingford, Conn.

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