Stupak Says No Abortion Funding Deal in Place, Won’t Back Down on Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 9, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stupak Says No Abortion Funding Deal in Place, Won’t Back Down on Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 9
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Bart Stupak, the Michigan congressman whose pro-life Democratic colleagues have the ability to determine whether the Senate health care bill that contains massive abortion funding lives or dies, said in a late Tuesday interview that no abortion deal is in place and he won’t back down.

Stupak sparked some concerns with comments that he was optimistic that a deal could be reached on a sidebar bill that concerns some pro-life advocates.

They worry such a bill would enable the pro-abortion Senate bill and Obama would sign it but not the abortion funding limits.

"Obviously they don’t know me," Stupak told The Weekly Standard this afternoon about pro-life advocates who say he may be caving on stopping the pro-abortion health care bill.

He pointed to his wrangling with pro-abortion Democratic leaders last December in November to get the House to vote on his amendment to stop abortion funding in the House bill as evidence that he is willing to play hardball.

"If I didn’t" compromise back then, "why would I do it now after all the crap I’ve been through?" he told reporter John McCormack.

"Everyone’s going around saying there’s a compromise — there’s no such thing," Stupak said.

He told the Weekly Standard the only thing that has changed from his comments saying he and his colleagues will oppose the Senate bill over abortion funding and now is that he has finally been able to have realistic conversations with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Congressman Henry Waxman about stopping abortion funding.

TWS indicated Stupak made it clear that there is significant confusion on the part of Democratic leaders on how to ban abortion funding in a way that would get the Senate bill enough votes — and that it may not happen.

Stupak says "the majority party can get it done. Where there’s a will there’s a way." Yet, he added, "No one has said here’s how you do it, here’s the legislative scheme."

The pro-life Democrat also likely pleased pro-life advocates with his pledge that a promise to fix abortion funding later is not good enough to earn his support for the Senate bill.

"If they say ‘we’ll give you a letter saying we’ll take care of this later,’ that’s not acceptable because later never comes," he told McCormack.

Stupak told the conservative publication that other political issues and the problems of working out a deal within the procedural structure of the House and Senate are confounding for Democrats and may make it so the health care bill stalls indefinitely.

And he emphasized to the Weekly Standard that his coalition of 12 pro-life Democrats that appear to give opponents enough votes to defeat the pro-abortion Senate bill in the House is not cracking.

"My numbers remain firm at 12. These are 12 who voted for it who will not vote for it unless we resolve this issue," he concluded.

As reported this morning, Stupak said he expected to continue those meetings this week and is hopeful a deal will be reached.
"I’m more optimistic than I was a week ago," Stupak said Monday night before a local town hall meeting with his Michigan constituents.

With the reconciliation process not able to stop the abortion funding in the Senate health care bill — the rules for the companion reconciliation bill would not allow changes to the abortion funding — Stupak has said a sidebar bill is a possibility.

A sidebar bill may not necessarily win support from pro-life advocates because it is fraught with strategic problems in terms of whether it can be approved and whether Obama would keep a potential pledge to sign it.

A sidebar bill would likely be similar to the Stupak amendment the House approved on a lopsided vote. However, the Senate rejected a similar amendment from Sen. Ben Nelson and there is no indication a second vote on a sidebar bill would result in a different outcome than before.

Obama is under no obligation to sign the sidebar bill. In fact, he would face tremendous pressure from Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the abortion lobby to veto the bill — leaving Americans obligated to pay for potentially hundreds of thousands of abortions under the health care measure the sidebar bill enabled.

The Catholic bishops have said they would promote such a bill — because they favor a health care reform measure — but other pro-life advocates are skeptical.

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