Rep. Walt Minnick may well have alienated some of his Democratic allies by opposing the health care reform bill that passed the House Saturday.
Yet the 1st District congressman still drew heat from Republicans Saturday night. Minnick opposed an amendment that would restrict federal funding of abortions.
Passed largely with the backing of Republicans — including 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson — the amendment passed 240-194.
In a statement Saturday, Minnick said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," and a decision that should be made by a woman, her family, her doctor and her pastor. And he wound up pushing an interesting argument: the amendment, like the overall bill, threatens to take health care decisions out of patients' hands. “I do not want a government bureaucrat denying a medical procedure ordered by a woman’s physician. I do not want this Congress to give an anonymous insurance executive an excuse to gut coverage for women’s health."
National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Joanna Burgos called Minnick's vote "a sneaky move."
"Walt Minnick, little by little, is showing his conservative district his true colors. Now his constituents have yet another reason to vote him out of office next November."
The overall health care bill passed 220-215, with both Minnick and Simpson opposed. Ultimately, I think this is a much riskier vote for Minnick. The first-term congressman — who has already voted against the Obama administration on economic stimulus and cap-and-trade — will now have one high-profile vote to explain to his Democratic base. And his vote on the anti-abortion amendment could be a sensitive issue in a socially conservative congressional district.
More reading: Northwest political blogger Randy Stapilus has a good take on Minnick's votes.