Jan 23, 2009

Peggy Noonan on the inaugural and on FOCA

We left on time and as we taxied onto the runway the pilot came on. "This is the USAir 4 p.m. shuttle to Washington, D.C.," he said in the old-fashioned Chuck Yeager style, and from the back of the plane came a roar of cheers and applause. When the sound reached the cockpit, the pilot came on again. "Hope has come to America," he said. The plane went wild.

The whole experience the next few days was marked for me by a new or refreshed knowledge that those who had not felt included or invited in the past were now for the first time truly here, and part of it all, in great numbers. And I suppose the fact that this would never have come about without the support, the votes, of the traditionally invited and included gave a special air of inclusiveness to the event. There was great kindness between people and true friendliness. No one was different. Everyone, whatever their views or votes, was happy.

I do think that she's right. She goes on later to talk about other people who have been marginalized in the past, those who are pro-life and she speaks of Obama's support of FOCA--the freedom of choice act. I'm not sure how many people caught this in the National Catholic Reporter not that long ago but it's pretty clear to me (thanks to Joe Feuerherd)that FOCA has no chance of passing.

It’s a matter of basic civics. The legislation, which never got a hearing in the last Congress, would be subject to hearings in both the Senate and House, and then have to be approved by the House Judiciary Committee, the full House, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate (with a 60-vote margin to overcome the inevitable filibuster). And then the respective versions would have to be reconciled in a conference committee and sent back to both chambers for final passage.

The notion that a bill this controversial could jump each of these hurdles is fanciful. Basic rule of legislation: It’s much easier to stop something then to pass it.

Further, the House already has a strong coalition of both Republicans and Democrats who either oppose abortion rights or do not want to see them expanded. And even if the bill were to make it to the Senate floor (which it won’t), it’s hardly a 60-vote lock. First rule of lawmaking: Know how to count. The pro-FOCA forces simply don’t have the votes.

But didn’t Barack Obama pledge during the campaign that FOCA’s passage would be his top priority? And doesn’t that change the legislative calculus?

Indeed, in July 2007 candidate Obama pandered to the pro-choice lobby. In response to a question from the Planned Parenthood audience he declared that to protect abortion rights “the first thing I’d do as president” is sign FOCA. But that doesn’t change the fact -- back to Civics 101 -- that President Obama won’t have the opportunity to sign FOCA.

And an excellent comment from NCR's comments section:

While I agree that FOCA is not a dire threat, and I do understand the way that Congress must act before something like this could even cross the President's desk, I do think that the continued opposition and discussion is good as a whole.

This ongoing discussion reminds the President - and those who support FOCA - that there is a very vocal outpouring against this proposed measure. That vocal support AGAINST FOCA will keep it from coming out of committee...

by silently sitting back, as is the case with any law, we risk its passage due to our apathy.

This discussion also allows us to move into and broaden our discussions in the areas of stem-cell research and the financial aid of NGOs that provide abortion counseling...

Now that we are more informed, what ways SHOULD we best combat this issue?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FOCA has no shot of passing? After today's executive order to reverse the Mexico City Policy AND the FDA's approval of embryonic stem cell usage, I'm going to take Obama at his word.

And this is only his third day on the job. He has two years to make good on FOCA. PP and NARAL are counting on it.

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