Clever.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said House leaders are specifically concerned about a Republican motion to recommit that would contain only language on abortion that Stupak originally had wanted to include in the Senate bill.

The concern is based on the fear of GOP attack ads painting Democrats who vote against a motion to recommit that includes Stupak’s favored language on abortion as “flip-floppers” on the issue…

Right now the best defense House leaders have against such a prospect is a colloquy that Stupak will hold on the House floor to publicly reaffirm that the executive order upholds the ban on federal funding of abortion…

Speaking to The Hill after that press conference, Stupak said he won’t necessarily make the argument that Democrats should reject a Republican motion consisting of just his abortion language.

“I don’t know if I’ll make the argument [to vote it down], but we’ll do the colloquy to clarify our intent, the executive order that Hyde applied,” he said.

So that’s why having Stupak speak on the House floor was a key part of the negotiations. They’re worried that pro-lifers will be afraid to vote against the abortion language if the GOP forces the issue, so they’re counting on him to assure the troops that it’s okay to do so because the executive order is just as good (giggle). Why the GOP wouldn’t try this escapes me, but the Hill thinks there’s a chance that they’ll load up the motion with other key Republican ideas — tort reform, etc. — which would be nuts, since it’ll give Stupak et al. a reason beyond abortion to vote no. Exit question: Why would Boehner waste this opportunity with a boring omnibus motion that’ll fail on party lines when he could make the Dems choke on abortion in a last-ditch bid to kill this thing? Presumably the worry is that Democrats will point to a barebones abortion motion later as evidence that Republicans had no objections to the bill by the end except the abortion plank, but there’s not a man or woman alive who believes that. But follow the link and read to the very end. The GOP had a chance to force a tough vote in November too — and passed.

Update: Nothing surprising about this, but even being “well past” 216 won’t save them if the Stupakers bolt over the motion to recommit.

A Democratic aide emails me confirmation that Bart Stupak was right when he said today: “We’re well past 216.”

Update: I posted this in the open thread too, but it deserves a spot here. At least one pro-life group is less impressed with that super-keen executive order than Stupak is.

Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the group was revoking its “Defender of Life” award to Stupak, which was to be awarded at its Wednesday night gala.

“We were planning to honor Congressman Stupak for his efforts to keep abortion-funding out of health care reform. We will no longer be doing so,” Dannenfelser said. “Let me be clear: any representative, including Rep. Stupak, who votes for this health care bill can no longer call themselves ‘pro-life.'”