Washington (CNN) – A group of Catholic nuns is urging Congress to pass health care reform, breaking ranks with bishops who say the current bill does not do enough to block federal money from being used to fund abortions.
"We write to urge you to cast a life-affirming 'yes' vote when the Senate health care bill (H.R. 3590) comes to the floor of the House for a vote as early as this week," a group of nuns wrote in a letter to members of Congress released Wednesday by NETWORK, progressive Catholic advocacy organization.
NETWORK said the 55 signatories represent tens of thousands of Catholic nuns in the United States.
The letter argues that the legislation "will make crucial investments in community health centers that largely serve poor women and children."
"And despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions," the letter reads. "It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it."
The nuns are siding with the Catholic Health Association, a group representing Catholic hospitals, which offered its support for reform earlier this week.
Washington (CNN) – When you walk into Del. Donna Christensen's Capitol Hill office, it's hard to miss proof of her medical expertise.
Christensen is the only female doctor in Congress. Her medical degree, professional licenses, board certification, awards and family physician's creed occupy an entire wall next to her desk. She practiced medicine for 20 years before she was elected to Congress in 1996.
A non-voting delegate representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, Christensen sits on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and on its Health Subcommittee. She also is the point person for the Congressional Black Caucus's efforts on health care.
But while Republican doctors-turned lawmakers have been all over the airwaves with their opposition to health care reform, Christensen has been largely absent from her party's efforts to explain its ambitious legislation.
Related: GOP Senate doctors on health care road show
She sat down Tuesday for an interview with CNN. "Up to the other day, I was saying to somebody in leadership, 'We need to be out there. We haven't had a message. We need to be out there talking about our bill.'"
Washington (CNN) – An influential liberal advocacy group shifted gears and is getting behind President Obama's push for health care reform even though its membership believes it doesn't go far enough.
MoveOn.org is spending "six figures" on television commercials to run on national cable and called on its membership to back primary challengers to Democrats who vote against health care reform legislation.
For the past year, MoveOn.org advocated that a public option be included in the overhaul health care reform. But the leadership of the member driven organization took a poll of its membership last week to see if it wanted to support the president's push. And 83 percent of them did.
"Our members still totally believe that the public option is the best way to lower costs and make health care affordable," said Ilyse Hogue, spokeswoman for MovOn.org. "And at the same time they overwhelmingly believe that the president's plan is the best way to keep health care reform moving forward and this is a necessary step."
Washington (CNN) – Prominent Democrat Donna Brazile is calling for primary challengers against Democrats who vote against the health care reform legislation.
"If a handful of Democrats decide to defeat this bill, they deserve to get a primary challenge to defend the status quo & insurance industry," Brazile, a member of the Democratic National Committee, posted on her Twitter feed.
The longtime Democratic strategist served as former Vice President Al Gore's campaign manager in his 2000 bid for the White House. Brazile is vice chair of the DNC's Voter Registration and Participation. She also is a CNN political contributor.
Brazile's comment comes the same day that President Obama traveled to Ohio in a final push to increase public support for health care reform.
"We need health insurance reform right now," the president said at a campaign-style rally outside of Cleveland. And "this is like a patients' bill of rights on steroids."
In the end, the president said, "this debate is about far more than politics. ... It comes down to what kind of country we want to be."
Congressional Democrats and Republicans appear headed for showdown later this week when votes on health care reform are expected to occur.
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(CNN) - As Capitol Hill Democrats make a final push to try to pass comprehensive health care reform legislation this week, South Carolina's Republican governor is out with a warning for taxpayers in his state.
"It's worth noting that today, the Fifteenth of March, is remembered as the 'Ides of March'- a day of reckoning and foreboding," Gov. Mark Sanford says in a written statement that criticizes the Democratic health care reform plan. "In the same way, today represents a time of foreboding for our nation given the historic nature of what is taking place in Washington."
Sanford's statement draws from the common expression "Beware the Ides of March," which refers to March 15, the date Roman emperor Julius Caesar was murdered by associates. The phrase has since been used to warn of ominous events thought to be in the near future.
With Monday's statement, Sanford seems to be doing what he can to try to murder the Democratic bill that has been one of President Obama's top domestic priorities in the past year.
"I believe it is a mistake both financially and medically, and that forcing this enormous healthcare plan on South Carolinians and Americans in general amounts to nothing less than Congressional malpractice."
Washington (CNN) – Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday that there’s nothing to recent reports of tension between himself and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Related video: Axelrod on Emanuel
“These stories are what Washington does,” Axelrod, a former Chicago Tribune reporter, said in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union. “When people think there are political challenges, then the ‘palace intrigue’ stories get written and so on. We are a tight group. We are all committed to the same thing and I would discount those stories.”
On a more personal note, Axelrod also spoke favorably of Emanuel, who has a reputation for sometimes being rough around the edges in his political dealings with allies and foes.
“We've got more candidates than we've ever had,” Boehner said in an interview that airs on Sunday’s State of the Union. “We've got better candidates than we ever had. We have a better process of helping to grow candidates and grow campaigns than we've ever had. No question that we're going to get outspent in this election. But I think that - that we have a chance at winning Republican control of the House.”
“And I'm going to do everything I can to see that it happens,” Boehner also said.
Asked by CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley to evaluate the GOP’s chances of retaking the House, Boehner was realistic.
“It's a steep climb, but it's doable,” Boehner told Crowley.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, begs to differ with Boehner’s prediction.
“The reality is that we’ve passed these bills through the House and the Senate,” Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said in an interview that airs Sunday on State of the Union. “The Republican candidates are going to campaign against us on it. The question is: We’ve got the vote, are we going to have the achievement? Are we going to have the accomplishment?”
The top Obama adviser also laid out a number of immediate impacts that the White House says will result from passage of the legislation, including prohibiting insurance companies from excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions in children, ending lifetime and annual caps on coverage, closing of the so-called “doughnut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, shoring up the financial solvency of the Medicare system, and giving tax credits to small business.
Then, Axelrod suggested that enacting health care reform could help Democrats in November’s elections by forcing Republicans to run against those immediate changes.
“If they want to have that fight, let’s have that fight,” he told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
During the interview, Axelrod, who was one of Obama’s top strategists during the presidential campaign, also took a shot at some leading Capitol Hill Republicans over their recent comments about the effect supporting health care reform could have in November’s midterms.
Asked about the facility and whether it would be closed, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in an interview that airs on Sunday’s State of the Union, “Well, no they're not. They - they keep saying they are.”
Boehner rejected the White House proposal saying, “(T)hey want $500 million from this Congress to rehabilitate this prison in northwest Illinois. I want to see who the members are who are going to vote for this. I wouldn't vote for this if you put a gun to my head.”