Two votes planned on reconciliation bill and Senate bill.3:30 PM, Mar 20, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
I just got back from a Tea Party protest and an anti-war protest (And, they think the righties are the unreasonable ones???), so I'm catching up on healthcare news.
The latest is that the House will push ahead with two real votes— one on reconciliation and one on the Senate bill. They're likely to vote on the reconciliation bill first, and there is reportedly a letter from more than 50 senators promising to vote for the House reconciliation bill. Steny Hoyer said the Senate bill, once voted on by the House will go directly to the president for his signature.
2:33 PM, Mar 20, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
There are reports that Bart Stupak and other pro-life Democrats are meeting with Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi has said that they are discussing a compromise that would use an executive order to allay the concerns of pro-life Democrats. The National Right to Life Committee just put out a release explaining that an executive order cannot fix the abortion related problems in the health care bill:
NRLC's March 19 letter to the House of Representatives, summarizing the seven major pro-abortion components in H.R. 3590, is posted here.
It should be noted that all of the problems listed in the NRLC letter -- with the possible exception of no. 5 (pro-abortion administrative mandates) -- would be created by and controlled by the proposed statutory language of H.R. 3590. If the bill is signed into law, these statutory requirements and defects are not subject to correction or nullification by the chief executive or his appointees, whether by Executive Order, regulation, or otherwise. Lawmakers will be responsible for the law that they vote for, and cannot hide behind hollow assurances from the President.
Prof. Robert Destro, a professor of law and former dean of the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, and an expert on abortion-related litigation, today sent Congressman Stupak an illuminating letter regarding whether the $7 billion in funds directly appropriated for Community Health Centers, in the Senate health bill (H.R. 3590), could be or would be spent for abortions. We have posted the letter here.
10:07 AM, Mar 20, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
By all accounts Bart Stupak has been pushing for an ironclad guarantee that the bill would only pass on the condition that his amendment is included. Kathryn Lopez hears what I hear:
Prospects for a Stupak deal may be collapsing. (Which, yes, could mean prospects for a vote tomorrow are collapsing. Or it could mean the White House/Pelosi twisted enough arms.)
Who will be the next to fold?5:15 PM, Mar 19, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
From Greg Sargent:
Another big get for Dems: Rep Brad Ellsworth, a former Yes vote who shared the concerns of the Stupak dozen and was intensely wooed by both sides, will vote Yes on the Senate bill, his spokesman confirms to me.
“He’s a Yes,” Jonathan Kott, communications director for Ellsworth, just said by phone. “He will vote in favor of health care reform.”
A press release detailing his rationale is forthcoming from his office.
This is a blow to the Stupak coalition. Will he bring others along?
Ellsworth just sealed the Democratic Senate nomination as well as his defeat in the general election.
Update: Stupak's office sent out an email saying he will hold a press conference with "other pro-life" members at 11:00a.m. to discuss the health care bill. Maybe all the pro-life Democrats cut a deal?
Boccieri flips from "no" to "yes;" Rahall flips from "yes" to "no."1:50 PM, Mar 19, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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.).
6:12 AM, Mar 19, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
If there are any wavering pro-life Democrats in this late hour who need to be persuaded about how awful the Senate health care bill is, they should read two memos that make it clear how the Senate bill would allow community health care centers to directly fund abortions with federal money. The first memo (download it here) is by the pro-life secretariat at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an organization that would support the health care plan if the bill didn't fund abortions with tax dollars. The other memo is by the National Right to Life Committee.
Laying the New Foundation, brick by brick.9:40 AM, Mar 18, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
The Democrats' race to pass health care reform is getting exhausting. It's not only the constant rush of developments to the story. The poor undecided congressmen are also tuckered out:
Rep. Jason Altmire has met with President Obama twice this month and received a phone call from Air Force One. Two planes circled his western Pennsylvania district, trailing banners urging him to vote against the health-care bill. And conservative "tea party" activists confronted him at his office, trying to force him to answer: "Are you for or against the bill?"
The pressure has been extreme over the past two weeks on Altmire and the few dozen House Democrats who say they still have not decidedhow they will vote on ambitious legislation designed to remake the nation's health-care system.
Says Bart Stupak: “All the phones are unplugged at our house — tired of the obscene calls and threats. [My wife] won’t watch TV,” Stupak said during an hourlong interview with The Hill in his Rayburn office. “People saying they’re going to spit on you and all this. That’s just not fun.”
Reps. McCarthy and Griffith speak.3:07 PM, Mar 17, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the GOP deputy whip, just held a conference call with bloggers. Here's what he said. The Republicans estimate that Pelosi has 205 Yes votes, while there are 205 No votes. That leaves about 21 votes up for grabs. Pelosi can lose 37 Democrats and still pass Obamacare into law. Based on rules and precedent and what's happening on the floor, the Republicans estimate that the earliest a health care vote could be held would be late Saturday or early Sunday.
McCarthy also said the Democrats have been pushed backward over the last 24 hours. Forget Kucinich. The reaction to the Slaughter Solution has been horrible for Pelosi and her team. Bart Stupak is holding his ground, even if some of his bloc may peel off in the end. And there's still no final reconciliation language and thus no CBO score for the bill. The Democrats are playing with the numbers in order to earn a deficit-neutral score. Meanwhile, the Capitol Hill switch board has been flooded with calls for and against the legislation.
Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama, who switched to the GOP in December, shed some light on how the Democratic whip operation works. Griffith said the whip team, when it calls or visits an undecided congressman, knows everything about him. They know the demographics of his district, his popularity, his most recent margin of victory, how safe his seat is, how popular the president and Pelosi are in his state, whether his state has a Medicaid shortfall, and whether he's been wanting money for a new road or bike path or medical school in his district. They come ready to deal. The one thing the whip team can't guarantee? A congressman's reelection.
3:41 PM, Mar 12, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Bart Stupak tells National Review's Robert Costa that the House Democratic leadership is "ignoring" him. The good news: Stupak affirms he won't cave in and is a "definite 'no' vote" because Democratic leaders have made it clear the abortion language won't be fixed.
The bad news: "At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve," says Stupak. "The others are having both of their arms twisted, and we’re all getting pounded by our traditional Democratic supporters, like unions."
If Obamacare passes, Stupak says, it could signal the end of any meaningful role for pro-life Democrats within their own party. “It would be very, very hard for someone who is a right-to-life Democrat to run for office,” he says. “I won’t leave the party. 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.”
Stupak told a radio show earlier today that Henry Waxman said during negotiations: "we want to pay for abortions."
1:13 PM, Mar 12, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Ed Morrissey has the video of Bart Stupak on Fox News last night. "We're not going to accept this 'trust me, we'll fix it later,'" Stupak says. "There has to be something more." Stupak says that Democrats have been told they'll be given seven days to look at final legislative text, which would seem to put the March 18 deadline out of reach.
7:25 PM, Mar 11, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Obamacare supporters thought they may have caught a break when Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan indicated he would vote for the Senate bill and thinks it adequately bans abortion funding. "Kildee Breaks From Stupak Over Senate Abortion Language," is how Roll Call put it. Kildee was on GOP whip Eric Cantor's list of pro-life Democrats who wouldn't vote for the Senate bill because of abortion, but Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life of America, tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that Kildee "wasn’t on the list of the Stupak 12" in the first place. Day is still hopeful there's a chance that Kildee will stick with Stupak in the end.
An interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD.5:55 PM, Mar 9, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak said yesterday at a townhall in his home state, "I'm more optimistic than I was a week ago" that a deal could be reached to pass a health care bill that bans public funding of abortion. Some speculated that this meant Stupak was ready to cave. "Obviously they don’t know me," Stupak said in an interview this afternoon with THE WEEKLY STANDARD. "If I didn’t" cave in November, "why would I do it now after all the crap I’ve been through?"
The search for votes continues.9:48 AM, Mar 9, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
In the umpteenth liberal column urging the president to "get tough" and "fight back" and "pass the damn bill," Richard Cohen writes: "What's wrong with the old belief -- a virtual childhood mantra -- that 'majority rules'?"
Good question! Let's take a moment for a basic civics lesson. The United States is not a unicameral majoritarian democracy. It is a bicameral constitutional republic with minority rights, checks and balances, and dispersed power. The majority does not rule. Why? Because the Founders sought to guard against what Tocqueville called the "tyranny of the majority." Liberals can bemoan this fact all they want. In order to change it, however, they would have to enact real change to the Constitution and the rules of the U.S. Senate. Good luck with that.
Hmmm.9:42 AM, Mar 9, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
With all eyes on pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan and the 12 so-called Stupak Dems who he says will vote 'no' on health-care reform without language that would ban federal funding of abortion, Stupak seemed to strike a sunnier note late yesterday:
"I'm more optimistic than I was a week ago," Stupak said in an interview between meetings with constituents in his northern Michigan district. He was hosting a town hall meeting Monday night at a local high school.