A follow-up and possible explanation to my previous post comes from The Hill, which reports on the way Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) has made himself into the fly in the ObamaCare ointment. While Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-NC) tries to whip 218 votes out of the Democratic caucus, Stupak claims to control 40 of those votes, thanks to the federal funding of abortions in the House plan. Stupak now threatens to collaborate with Republicans on a procedural motion that will kill ObamaCare for the session unless Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Nancy Pelosi allow an amendment to block all federal funding for abortions:
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) on Tuesday threatened that he may work with Republicans to torpedo healthcare reform unless he gets a vote to strip abortion-related provisions out of the House bill.
Stupak wants a floor vote on a measure that would prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for abortions. And in an interview on C-SPAN on Tuesday, he suggested if Democratic leaders don’t give him the vote, he’ll work with Republicans.
Stupak said one way or the other, there will be a vote on the abortion language, either “though a rule, or on the floor, or on a motion to recommit.”
A motion to recommit is a parliamentary tool used by the minority in the House to kill legislation. While some Democrats occasionally vote for motions to recommit, it is unusual for Democrats to strategize with Republicans on how best to use the procedural motion.
This could explain why Clyburn comes up short of 200 votes on his whipping efforts. Something is keeping the Democrats from winning a majority in the House, where they face no extraordinary procedural obstacles or requirements for supermajorities, unlike the Senate. The Blue Dogs have complained about the costs of the comprehensive plan, but this is more cut-and-dried for pro-life Democrats like Stupak and some of his allies.
My guess is that Stupak will get his amendment vote. Waxman and Pelosi may catch hell from Planned Parenthood for it, but they’re not going to go anywhere, and Stupak may be able to deliver what he threatens. If Stupak and his Gang of 40 flip to the Republicans on a motion to recommit, the entire health-care overhaul effort could be killed. Pelosi and Waxman can push the Freedom of Choice Act later, an effort they apparently hoped to avoid by stealthily putting it into ObamaCare instead.