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House panel OKs Blunt amendment barring abortion payments in health plan

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 30, 2009 - U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Strafford, won one and lost one Thursday night in his amendment battle to alter a House plan that he calls "government-takeover of health care."

Blunt, chairman of the House GOP's Health Care Solutions Group, succeeded in winning committee approval of his amendment that blocks federal funding for abortions in the Democratic-driven proposal to change the nation's health care system.

“As more and more Americans express their concerns over the government-takeover of our health care system, the Energy & Commerce Committee was able to send a clear signal tonight that American tax dollars should not be used to fund abortions,” Blunt said in a statement.

But he was less successful with his amendment "to require all federal elected officials, including the president, vice-president, and the Congress, to join the government health-care plan."

The committee voted that one down.

Said Blunt in a statement afterwards: “If the majority is really so confident that their plan will provide the very best health care for the people we represent, we ought to demonstrate that confidence by enrolling ourselves."

Blunt's committee victory and loss aren't his only actions this week in the news.

Besides his latest comments about Medicare, Blunt also was featured Thursday by MSNBC liberal commentator Rachel Maddow. She showed a video of Blunt in which he appears to be at least sympathetic to the so-called "birther'' movement that alleges President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, and therefore is ineligible to be president.

Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer has told reporters that the video, circulated Thursday by Democrats, takes the congressman's comments out of context.

In the video, Blunt says that Obama should produce his birth certificate and does not believe that he has done so. (Obama's campaign last year produced a copy of Hawaii's certificate of live birth, and copies of 1961 newspaper notices of his birth.)

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.