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White House to Stupak: Stop bringing up abortion

posted at 7:53 am on December 23, 2009 by

As if the dirty play couldn’t get any dirtier, the White House has been trying to pressure Rep. Stupak to stop talking about abortion funding in the health care monstrosity bill.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said the White House and the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives have been pressuring him not to speak out on the “compromise” abortion language in the Senate version of the health care bill.

“They think I shouldn’t be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language,” Stupak told in an interview on Tuesday. “Well, I don’t need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with it. I know what it says. I don’t need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me here.”

The Michigan Democrat succeeded last month in getting 64 House Democrats to join him in attaching his pro-life amendment to the House version of the health-care bill. The “Stupak amendment,” as the provision is known, would prohibit the federal government from allocating taxpayer money to pay for any part of any health insurance plan that covers abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.

Stupak had contact with the White House last weekend, when the Senate voted 60 to 40 in the wee hours of Monday morning to shut off debate on the Senate version of the bill.

The current version of the Senate bill contains so-called “compromise” language crafted by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). This language does not bar taxpayer funding of health plans that cover abortion, but does create a firewall to supposedly keep federal money from being used to pay for abortions. Over the weekend, Stupak issued a statement calling the proposed Senate language “unacceptable.”

“A review of the Senate language indicates a dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage,” said the statement.

In his interview with on Tuesday, Stupak said that the White House “asked me just to hold off for awhile and not to say anything about this language. But as soon as the news broke that they had this [compromise], and they got the 60 votes, folks were asking me, and I’m not going to run from the issue I’m going to stand up and say, ‘Look, here’s my objections.’ Here – it’s not just my objections – but there’s a number of my [colleagues] who feel strongly about this issue, and these are the parts that have to be fixed.”

Stupak said he is not alone in being pressured from the White House and the House Democratic leadership – other pro-life Democratic colleagues apparently are, as well. But they plan to hold firm, he said.

“We’re getting a lot of pressure not to say anything, to try to compromise this principle or belief,” Stupak said. “[T]hat’s just not us. We’re not going to do that. Members who voted for the Stupak language in the House – especially the Democrats, 64 Democrats that voted for it – feel very strongly about it. It’s been part of who we are, part of our make up. It’s the principle belief that we have. We are not just going to abandon it in the name of health care.”

When asked if he has the votes he needs to stop the bill if, in its final version, it does not include the language of his amendment or nearly identical language, Stupak did not answer directly.

“Well, if all the issues are resolved and we’re down to the pro-life view or, I should say, no public funding for abortion, there’s at least 10 to 12 members who have said, repeatedly, unless this language is fixed and current law is maintained, and no public funding for abortion,” said Stupak. “There’s 10 or 12 of us, and they only passed the bill by 3 votes, so they’re going to be short 8 to 9, maybe 6 to 8 votes. So they [Democrats] do not have the votes to pass it in the House.”

Kudos to Stupak for not keeping quiet. There are plenty of weaker politicians out there (like Ben Nelson, maybe) who would’ve just done what the White House asked them to do in exchange for a few favors and bribes from Harry Reid.

Look, Americans deserve to know exactly what they’re getting in this health care bill, and I’m pretty sure Obama sold his presidency as the most transparent administration ever. But pressuring a pro-life representative to keep quiet about his reaction to abortion funding in the bill isn’t exactly transparent, is it? It’s just like every other method Obama, Reid, and Pelosi have employed to get this bill passed — they’ve all been low and dirty and the worst kind of politics. It’s exactly the kind of politics we were promised would be over and done with if we gave Obama the presidency, but instead, we’ve got Chicago-style brass knuckle, cronyism politics. Do what Obama wants, and he’ll give you any special little favors or handouts you ask for. Defy him, and he will do everything he can to destroy you.

I don’t think anyone wanted Chicago-style politics played out on a national stage.

What Stupak is saying should give us some hope, but at the same time, can we count on those 10 or 12 politicians to hold the line? There are plenty who will bend to manipulation and pressuring from the White House. Will Stupak be able to rally them? Or will the pressure from Obama and Pelosi be enough for them to sell out their principles?

Cross-posted from Cassy’s blog. Stop by for more original commentary, or follow her on Twitter!

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Will Stupak be able to rally them? Or will the pressure from Obama and Pelosi be enough for them to sell out their principles?

I vote for the 2nd option. Unfortunately.

SouthernGent on December 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Or will their “deeply held” principles be for sale, as was demonstrated in the Senate.

trl on December 24, 2009 at 3:49 PM