At Speaker Nancy Pelosi's weekly press conference at the Capitol today, I asked her if she would support allowing a vote on an amendment sponsored by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak to strip abortion-funding from the health-care legislation. Pelosi said abortion was already "out of the health care bill" and refused to give a straight answer about allowing a vote on Stupak's amendment. According to the transcript sent out by Pelosi's office, my brief description of Stupak's position of the Capps amendment, the amendment Pelosi (inaccurately) says bans abortion-funding in the health bill, was inaudible. But it came through loud and clear on my recorder, so I've cleaned up the transcript below by adding the words left out by the speaker's office:
Q: Will you support an up-or-down vote--allowing an up-or- down vote on Representative Stupak's amendment to keep abortion funding out of the health care bill?
Speaker Pelosi. It's out of the health care bill...
Q: He thinks that that amendment [the Capps amendment is a "phony compromise." He] wants to introduce [an amendment] on the floor of the House to keep abortion funding out. [Right now, it's paid through premiums rather than--]
Speaker Pelosi. I can't talk about an amendment until we see what the bill is. And the bill - as the President stated last night, it does not expand any spending for abortion. You know, again, when we see what the bill is and if there's need for amendment, we're open to amendments in many categories as we go to the floor
But you can't talk about amendments until you see what is in the bill. And when we have a bill, the Rules Committee will make decisions as to what amendments will go to the floor. And the Rules Committee, as we harmonize these three bills, the Rules Committee will weigh in as to what manager's amendment will go to the floor to - to resolve some of the differences that still exist.
But everybody - we'll probably have 435 up-or-downs that people want to have in the bill. We have to manage it in a way that gets the job done, that truly expresses a different view than what is in the bill.