UPDATE – SATURDAY 11 A.M. – Stupak’s press conference, which was scheduled for 11 a.m. and was thought to be where he would unveil his proposal, has been postponed indefinitely. Time’s Jay Newton Small is reporting that a Democratic whip meeting has just been scheduled for noon.
National Review is reporting that Stupak has broken off negotiations with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. These don’t seem to be good signs for Democrats, given that if Pelosi was negotiating with Stupak over pro-life votes, that would indicate they don’t have enough votes without them.
Hang on to your hats.
An attempt late Friday by Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Michigan Democrat, to change abortion language in President Obama’s health care bill riled pro-choice lawmakers who vowed not to allow the revision.
The move by Stupak, who holds a crucial bloc of Democratic votes that if released would clear the way for the health bill, threw Capitol Hill into confusion late Friday, less than two days before the House is set to vote on the landmark legislation.
Stupak, leaving the Capitol, said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s willingness to talk to him about his idea shows Democrats “don’t have the votes, or they wouldn’t be talking to me,” he said in an interview with The Hill’s Molly Hooper.
It was not entirely clear how exactly Stupak’s proposal would work. Stupak is reportedly trying to change the abortion language through a procedure called a “concurrent resolution,” but a parliamentarian expert told The Daily Caller that such a move would face huge hurdles.
The House would likely have to pass the Senate bill, and then hold it back from going to the president for his signature while they voted on the concurrent resolution. Or the president could receive the bill but not sign it into law, waiting for the resolution changing the abortion language to go through the Senate.
The chances of passing such a provision through the Senate, in addition, are not good.
Nonetheless, Pelosi appeared to be taking the proposal seriously, judging by the reaction from her pro-choice caucus.
Rep. Diana Degette, Colorado Democrat, emerged clearly agitated from a meeting with Pelosi and other pro-choice members in a room just off the House floor.
She said the Stupak proposal was a “non-starter.”
“Nobody likes this,” she said, claiming that more than 40 pro-choice Democrats would oppose the move.
“If Mr. Stupak and a few members … decide to use this to take health care down, then that loss of health care coverage will be on them,” she said.
Asked if she was willing to vote against the health care bill if Stupak got his way, she said “we are not going to vote for a bill that restricts the woman’s right to choose beyond current law.”
“So you’re willing to take down the health care bill?” the Daily Caller asked.
“That’s it! That’s all I’m saying!” she said.
She then added: “I’m not taking any bill down.”
Pelosi, hurrying out of the meeting with the pro-choice caucus, refused to talk to reporters as she headed to a meeting with other lawmakers in her offices.