Pelosi caves to Stupak

posted at 8:25 am on November 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

How desperate has Nancy Pelosi become for enough votes to pass her ObamaCare proposal this weekend? She has reversed course and given Bart Stupak (D-MI) a floor vote on his amendment to ban federal abortion funding in the bill. Pelosi had attempted to use another amendment to undermine Stupak’s support and get enough votes to keep from a humiliating loss:

House Democratic leaders will allow an up-or-down vote on an amendment blocking any money in its healthcare overhaul from funding abortions, risking the votes of members who support abortion rights.

Anti-abortion Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) had told a bleary-eyed Rules committee panel that a deal struck earlier in the day to move forward on the issue was off.

“There was some compromise language from different proposals that we thought would be satisfactory, our understanding was that we had an agreement. Two hours later it was not an agreement,” Stupak said as the clock neared 1 a.m. Saturday.

That sounds like bad news, in one sense.  Stupak’s coalition of pro-life Democrats could have kept Pelosi’s bill from passing.  Indeed, Stupak had threatened to work with Republicans on a motion to recommit, which would have killed the bill.  If Stupak gets his vote, he may wind up supporting the bill even if he loses and the bill remains with its current language.  Even if Stupak remains firm, members of his coalition may split after an up-or-down vote.

However, Stupak will almost certainly get the entire Republican caucus to support him, and perhaps more Democrats than the 40 Stupak already has.  If the amendment passes, Pelosi may have an entirely different problem:

Liberals on the committee threatened to vote against the final healthcare bill if it included Stupak’s language, warning that it would be a return to the days of back-alley abortions.

“I forsee a return to the dark ages,” said Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.). “I’m 73, I’ve seen these dark things, they use these coat hangers and die.”

That’s a remarkable statement — since we don’t use federal funds now to pay for abortions.  Stupak’s amendment just maintains the status quo; it doesn’t actually change anything.  The coat-hanger argument has always been a red herring anyway, but in this instance it’s especially dishonest … unless Hastings et al see this bill as a complete government takeover of the health-care system, which it will definitely produce sooner or later.

If Pelosi loses the progressives over the ban on abortion funding, what would she have left?  The Blue Dogs won’t rescue this bill, not after this week’s elections and the nosedive in polling for ObamaCare, and especially not after the latest unemployment numbers.

Pass the popcorn.  This should be interesting, and still scary enough to keep pulse rates high.


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