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Whip Count: Pelosi Doesn't Have the Votes Without Stupak

Boccieri flips from "no" to "yes;" Rahall flips from "yes" to "no."

1:50 PM, Mar 19, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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John Boccieri becomes the fourth Democrat who voted against the health care bill in November to flip his vote to "yes". He joins Betsy Markey, Bart Gordon, and Dennis Kucinich. I expect Scott Murphy of New York to become the fifth soon. Other potential flippers from "no" to "yes" include Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Brian Baird (Wash.), Jim Matheson (Utah), and Jason Altmire (Pa.).

Whip Count: Pelosi Doesn't Have the Votes Without Stupak

Pelosi's Cat o' Nine Tails

But there's good news (I think): Peter DeFazio just announced he's flipping from Yes to No. And even if Pelosi can flip ten "no" votes to "yes," she's still short. Here's why.

If the number of Democrats who flip from "yes" to "no" is greater than the number who flip from "no" to "yes," the bill will be defeated.

Bart Stupak's coalition of pro-life Democrats is larger than many had assumed. While Stupak has claimed to have a dozen members willing to flip from "yes" to "no," most Democrats assumed he only had five. I think Stupak has at least nine Democrats in his coalition. Yes, I know politicians can go back on their word, but House leadership is still frantically trying to cut a deal with Stupak, which indicates they don't have the votes.

The Stupak coalition includes:

1. Bart Stupak (Mich.)
2. Dan Lipinski (Ill.)
3. Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
4. Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.)
5. Jerry Costello (Ill.)
6. Steve Driehaus (Ohio)
7. Marion Berry (Ark.)
8. Brad Ellsworth (Ind.) (He's given mixed signals, but it would be hard to break from Donnelly/win the general Senate election while abandoning Stupak.)
9. Nick Rahall (W.V.)

Rahall's announcement just today of an ultimatum on abortion makes it very difficult for fellow West Virginian Alan Mollohan to vote for the bill. Other potential members of the Stupak coalition:

* Henry Cuellar (Tex.) has given mixed signals.

* Marcy Kaptur has given mixed signals, but her latest remarks make it seem that she might stick with Stupak.

* Chris Carney (Pa.) had a strong statement about opposing federal funding of abortion but didn't specify whether he was talking about Stupak.

* I'm pretty sure Jim Oberstar sold out, but this report indicates there's a chance he might care more about stopping taxpayer-funding of abortion than keeping his Transportation Committee chairmanship.

So Stupak could very easily have 10 to 12 (or more!) Democrats in his coalition. And Michael Arcuri (N.Y.), Zack Space (Ohio), Earl Pomeroy (N.D.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), and others may vote against the bill for reasons other than abortion. So the group of "yes" to "no" votes is bigger than the group of "no" to "yes" votes at this point.

If Pelosi doesn't have the votes without Stupak, is there a chance she can cut a deal with him at the last minute? It's unlikely. Stupak said today that there has been talk about running a "corrections" bill to add in his amendment. A corrections bill would take place outside of reconciliation, and would simply amend the Senate bill to include his amendment. It would require 60 votes in the Senate and 216 votes in the House (if I'm not mistaken). So there are no objections to the "Byrd rule." While a corrections bill is procedurally feasible, it may be politically impossible, as KLo points out here.

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