JONATHAN CHAIT MARCH 12, 2010
And, from his tone, it sounds like they'll get the votes. From an interview with National Review:
Sitting in an airport, on his way home to Michigan, Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat, is chagrined. “They’re ignoring me,” he says, in a phone interview with National Review Online. “That’s their strategy now. The House Democratic leaders think they have the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care bill without us. At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve. And even if they don’t have the votes, it’s been made clear to us that they won’t insert our language on the abortion issue.” ...
“I’m telling the others to hold firm, and we’ll meet next week, but I’m disappointed in my colleagues who said they’d be with us and now they’re not. It’s almost like some right-to-life members don’t want to be bothered. They just want this over.”
What I don't understand is why Stupak considers this such a disaster, aside from the pride he's invested in his own legislative language. Okay, assume from his ideological perspective, maximal anti-abortion policy trumps covering the uninsured and other benefits of reform. Still, this is probably the only realistic chance to cover the uninsured for a very long time, whereas opportunities to restrict abortion rights come along pretty often. Here's Stupak in the same interview:
I’m more comfortable here and still believe in a role within it for the right-to-life cause, but this bill will make being a pro-life Democrat much more difficult. They don’t even want to debate this issue. We’ll probably have to wait until the Republicans take back the majority to fix this.
So, there you go -- wait until the Republicans take back the majority and then fix it. Right? I don't agree with Stupak's abortion views, but I do respect them. I see no reason why he has to assume that failing to get 100% of what he wants on abortion right now means conceding failure forever.