Chris Matthews just couldn’t believe it. Eric Cantor insisted that a dozen members of the House that had previously voted in support of ObamaCare would flip to no votes on the rebound — more than likely enough to kill the Senate bill from getting passed. The Hardball host asked Stupak if that could really be true, and Stupak gave him the bad news:

The Senate’s healthcare bill would lose 12 Democratic votes in the House, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Wednesday.

Stupak, the sponsor of an amendment to the House healthcare bill which barred federal subsidies for health plans covering abortion, said that 12 lawmakers who had previously supported healthcare reform legislation in the House.

“It’s accurate to say there are at least 12 of us who voted for healthcare that have indicated to the speaker and others that unless you change this language, we will vote against it,” Stupak said during an appearance on MSNBC. …

The congressman’s comments come on the heels of his claims last week, when he said he knows of 15-20 Democratic lawmakers who are witholding support for the bill because of “other problems.” But it is not clear if or how many overlap between the two groups.

Who are the twelve? The clip lists these House members:

  • Joe Cao (R-LA)
  • Jerry Costello (D-IL)
  • Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA)
  • Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
  • Steve Dreihaus (D-OH)
  • Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
  • Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
  • Dale Kildee (D-MI)
  • Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
  • Jim Oberstar (D-MN)
  • Charlie Wilson (D-OH)
  • Stupak himself (D-MI)

Notice anything interesting about that list?  With the exception of Oberstar, these all represent either red states or districts with significantly conservative tilts.  Even Oberstar’s district is more conservative than Oberstar usually votes.  Joe Cao represents New Orleans, but he’s also a Republican — the only Republican to vote for ObamaCare in either chamber — and he’s not going to make that mistake again, especially without Stupak’s anti-abortion language as a cover.

The original bill passed by five votes.  Pelosi had extra votes in her back pocket, but did she have seven of them?  Actually, make that nine, since Raul Grijalva and Michael Arcuri look like they’ll flip, but for other reasons.  And if these walk away, how many other Democrats in tough districts will choose to walk off the cliff for Nancy Pelosi only to have the bill fail anyway?  Don’t be surprised if this prompts more late flips to opposition.

Pelosi may have an answer, albeit unlikely and unwieldy: Stupak suggested that the House could work on a parallel bill to reinsert the Stupak language on abortion, but that would have to pass the Senate, too — and Obama would have to sign it.  Do any of the people on Stupak’s list really think that Pelosi will pursue that and that Obama would agree to it?  Or do they just need a fig leaf?