Rep. Bart Stupak (D, MI) and his coalition of fellow representatives, the pro-life “Stupak 12”, have been yes-vote holdouts on the Senate health care bill due to its lack of restriction on the use of federal funds for abortion services. Without the “yes” votes of the Stupak 12, which actually varies between 6 and 9 depending on best guesses, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a much tighter margin collecting the required votes for (deeming) passage of the Senate bill.
The deal calls for Stupak to have a vote on his amendment either before or after the House votes to confirm the Senate bill on Sunday. Stupak is confident that he has the votes to pass the measure, and is happy to have the vote after the House passes the Senate bill. He believes that by using a “tie bar” approach, his amendment would be “tied” to the health care bill — which would require just 51 votes in the Senate.
I guarantee that congressional parliamentarians will be required to sort out the building legislative shenanigans. It appears that, in order to use reconciliation which requires only 51 votes in the Senate, this would have to be a budget related matter. That’s a bit of a stretch for an abortion clause. The second tactic may be to use an “Enrollment Resolution”, a procedure intended to make minor corrections between passage in congress and the president’s signature. The Enrollment Resolution would instruct the Senate Clerk to change the wording of the Senate bill to mirror Stupak’s restrictions on abortion funding. This is also a bit of a stretch as this is hardly a minor correction.
Further, if the Senate makes any changes to Stupak’s wording, the whole thing goes back to the House and the process starts over again. This deal is clearly a risky move on the part of House leadership and one not without its own consequences. According to The Hill, the more than forty votes of the pro-choice caucus are at stake:
“This concurrent resolution which Congressman Stupak and several others have filed, from the position of the people who signed my letter back in November, is a non-starter,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a Pro-Choice Caucus co-chairwoman. “We compromised to the concept ‘no federal funding for abortion,’ which is current law — we don’t like that. And so if Mr. Stupak and a few members, along with the Republicans, decide to use this to take healthcare down, then that loss on healthcare coverage is going to be on their hands.”
Allahpundit posits two possible reasons for the seeming risk:
(1) It’s all for show. The pro-lifers want nothing more than a vote in the Senate. They expect to lose, but the political cover they’ll gain for making a minor stand on principle is enough to make it worth their while…
(2) The pro-choicers are planning to cave. They caved in November, didn’t they? Problem is, this is the final bill and they … sure don’t sound like they’re going to cave. Diana DeGette, leader of the pro-choice caucus, claims she has the votes to kill it if Stupak gets his way, and given how close the margin is, it’d only take three or four stalwarts to walk to torpedo the whole thing. Drama!
NYT: Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan and a leader of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, has postponed a news conference that had been scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, a sign that there is still serious maneuvering under way in the fight over abortion language in the major health care legislation.
The fate of the bill now largely rests with a small group of anti-abortion Democrats, who have demanded tighter restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions.