The Latest On Stupak (Updated)

by Jonathan Cohn | March 20, 2010

Dej ja vu all over again: We're a day away from a House vote on health care reform and success, once again, may hinge on a deal with Democrats who oppose abortion rights.

As you know, Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak has said he can't vote for the senate health care bill because, at least in his view, it doesn't sufficiently restrict abortion. He's said that as many as a dozen Democrats will vote with him--potentially enough to prevent House leadership from rounding up a 216-vote majority.

Last night, there was talk leadership might accommodate Stupak by adding abortion language to the bill or holding a separate vote--infuriating democrats who support abortion rights. But, as reported by TPM's Brian Beutler, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just said there will be no separate vote. Henry Waxman, chairman of Energy and Commerce and a Pelosi confidante, later told a handful of reporters that "what (Stupak and his supporters) want they cannot get, because the rules do not allow it."

That doesn't mean there will be no deal. At around noon, a senior House aide told me another option remained under discussion: having President Obama issue an executive order applying the Hyde amendment, which forbids federal funding of abortion, to the new insurance exchanges.

It's not clear whether that would satisfy Stupak--or whether it's even necessary to satisfy him. Its possible leadership can get the votes without him.

Update: via Huffington Post's Sam Stein, Rep Jan Schakowsky says as many as 50 Democrats would bolt if Stupak gets his language in the bill. Outside of a Democratic whip meeting, Rep. Diana DeGette also expressed frustration with the situation in an interview with me, saying "we feel like we've compromised enough already." But DeGette didn't rule out the possibility of an executive order. "If it simply states that there will be no federal funding of abortion in the bill, that's fine, because we've already agreed to that."

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