In the who-got-what game, here’s one that has not gotten much attention: in Sen. Harry Reid’s manager’s amendment, Sen. Bob Casey secured some long-sought-after funding for pregnant and parenting teenagers. His press secretary, Larry Smar, confirms that Casey was the man behind two reproductive health–related provisions in the amendment. First, he added a provision to create a pregnancy-assistance fund, $250 million over 10 years to help pregnant and parenting teens with child-care assistance, housing, and education. He also landed an increase in the adoption tax credit, $1,000 for the next two years. Smar estimates that this will increase federal support for adoption by $1.2 billion. Not too shabby for a senator who made it pretty clear that he did not intend to filibuster.
Casey has long tried to secure similar funds in Congress, introducing the Pregnant Women Support Act in the past two sessions with support from pro-life Democrats. But he’s never been able to get enough support to get the bill out of committee. The bill was opposed by supporters of abortion rights who faulted Casey for not making any of mention of contraceptives, as well as attempting to extend SCHIP to pregnant women, potentially codifying the embryo as a child to receive federal benefits. I should note that that provision did not make it into the manager’s amendment.
This isn’t just a get for Casey; you can also count it among Ben Nelson’s loot. He was a cosponsor of the Pregnant Women Support Act when Casey introduced the legislation this past January. So I’d imagine this was yet another provision that helped get Nelson onboard with the Democrats.
As Suzy pointed out earlier today, senators chasing after their sweetheart deals could turn sour. But there’s something to be said for Casey using his vote as leverage for a pretty decent cause that he has chased for years, rather than pursuing a Pennsylvania compromise. It definitely beats the other self-serving behavior we’ve seen from our senators.