The Standard counts no fewer than 53 Dems on record as having problems with the House bill, but so lopsided is the blue majority that the GOP would need to peel off 40 of them to block it. That’s not going to happen on Obama’s signature policy initiative. Assuming their objections are economic in nature, Pelosi will simply shower the fencesitters with legislative goodies until enough of them are willing to choke down ObamaCare.
But what if their objections are based on something more profound than economics?
Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak said he is “optimistic” that his campaign to include explicit language condemning the use of federal funds for abortion in the House health care bill will pass the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The congressman from Michigan did however say on today’s “Washington Unplugged” that the House will likley not vote on the bill before their July 31st deadline.
“I think if they do not have [the language] in there and President Obama says we are going to have a bill with nothing in there on abortion, I think it is going to backfire. I think we bring down the rule and it will be explicitly discussed in the health care plan one way or another,” Stupak told Washington Unplugged’s Michelle Levi after a press conference with Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
Stupak told CBS News that he feels confident that “a minimum of thirty nine” democrats would join him in opposing the legislation proposed by House leaders should the abortion language not be written in.
A bluff? Maybe not. The One was conspicuously solicitous of the pro-life position when asked about this yesterday by Katie Couric:
The president told CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric that he is “not trying to micro-manage what benefits are covered.”
“I’m pro-choice, but I think we also have the tradition in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care,” he said, adding: “My main focus is making sure that people have options of high quality care at the lowest possible price.”
I’m astounded that they’ve reached this point of the process without having ironed out a consensus on abortion. Dan Gilgoff, U.S. News’s religious beat reporter, says it’s a clusterfark in the making, with centrist evangelicals using this as a test case to see whether The One’s serious about finding “common ground” with pro-lifers while Planned Parenthood’s busy insisting that “without genuine access to reproductive healthcare, a woman’s right to choose is made meaningless.” I don’t see how they square the circle. If the point of ObamaCare is to provide necessary medical services to the poor, and if it’s the poor who supposedly most need access to abortion because they can least afford the financial hardship of having to feed another child, then how can the left politically afford to shaft them on this? Either the plan is to pass the bill now without abortion funding and then insert the provision at a later date — although who knows if the Dems will ever have the numbers in Congress for that — or they’ve somehow written off Stupak’s pro-life coalition and are going to get the votes they need from a few key Republican defectors, a la cap and trade.
Or a third option: They don’t have the votes.