Question: Will the nutroots regard Stupak as a traitor for working with the evil GOP or an unwitting hero in trying to block a bill they regard as a sellout to corporate America?
An aide to Rep. Bart Stupak (D. Mich.) coordinated opposition to a Senate compromise on the place of abortion in health care legislation this morning with the Republican Senate leadership, the Conference Catholic Bishops, and other anti-abortion groups, according to a chain of frantic emails obtained this morning by POLITICO.
The emails show that Stupak — who has so far remained silent on language accepted by Senator Ben Nelson (D. Neb.) and faces intense pressure from the White House to accept it — is already working behind the scenes to oppose the compromise…
Stupak is the leader of a group of pro-life Democrats who say they’ll oppose the sweeping legislation if it uses government money to pay for abortion, while McConnell is firmly committed to killing the legislation. The fact that the two have made common cause against the Senates health care compromise will likely further infuriate Stupak’s Democratic colleagues in the House, and demonstrates his willingness to stop any bill that doesn’t pass his test.
I’m assuming the leaker here was someone who’s supporting the bill and eager to shatter Stupak’s pro-life blockade in the House, although I can’t imagine how they would have gotten hold of the e-mails. Or was this actually leaked by Stupak himself as an early warning to Pelosi that he’ll need to be bought off too like his pal Ben Nelson was? (If so, how does “further infuriating” his own side, including possibly members of his own anti-abortion coalition, by secretly coordinating with the GOP strengthen his hand?) Here again is Stephen Spruiell’s calculus of Democratic votes in the House; remember, Pelosi can only afford to lose two net yes votes after passing her own bill, 220-215. The strategy, I assume, will be to appease House progressives by dropping Stupak’s abortion language while using the lack of a public option in the final bill to woo Dems in Stupak’s anti-abortion coalition. Even if she loses 20 votes among House liberals who say they can’t vote for a bill without a public plan, potentially she’ll gain back 20 among weak pro-life Blue Dogs for whom a bill without a public plan is a real treat. Hoyer thinks it’s feasible, but whether he said that because he believes it or simply because he wanted to keep the pressure on while Nelson was deliberating is anyone’s guess.
Exit question: Can anyone explain to me why Bayh and Lincoln and Pryor and the rest of the Blue Dogs in the Senate who represent the 60th vote aren’t now demanding a Medicaid buyout for their state like Nelson got? Big Ben might have sold out America on abortion but at least he has something to show his constituents. The rest of them are voting for an increasingly toxic bill and getting jack in return. Is there some subtle strategic point to this that I’m missing or are they simply the royal schmucks we suspect them of being?
Update: Fixed the blockquote to correct Politico’s earlier typo about Stupak supposedly backing the Senate bill. (He’s opposing it, of course.) Meanwhile, an update:
“I never talked to McConnell about the health care bill,” said Stupak, adding that that “I did not authorize the email [which] “was sent without my knowledge.”
Stupak said that he has discussed the Senate’s abortion position with conservative Democratic senators Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Robert Casey (Penn.). His opposition to the senate’s language, in spite of those conversations and intense pressure from the White House, could augur a challenge to the compromise in the House when the two versions of the bill are reconciled.
The Senate language represented “a dramatic shift in federal policy,” said Stupak, adding that he remained hopeful that the differences could be resolved in conference. Nelson, though, said earlier Saturday that his support for the legislation was contingent on the abortion compromise remaining in it.