Stupak and Pelosi Talk Last-Minute Deal on Stopping Health Care Abortion Funding

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 19, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stupak and Pelosi Talk Last-Minute Deal on Stopping Health Care Abortion Funding

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 19
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Rep. Bart Stupak held a serious discussion with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats late Friday that could lead to a deal to cut the massive abortion funding from the Senate health care bill. Although nothing is in place, Stupak and his pro-life colleagues have a press conference Saturday.

Stupak spent a couple hours Friday evening negotiating with Democratic leaders and was seen spending about 10 minutes talking directly with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

He later told The Hill that a deal is in progress but he was noncommittal — preferring to see something on paper before announcing anything concrete. Stupak said the conversation with Pelosi was about an abortion-related "proposal that’s out there."

Although Stupak provided no details on the agreement, it could consist of a "concurrent resolution" that would change the abortion language in the Senate bill, but the Daily Caller reports today that parliamentary experts say such a resolution may not work to get a guarantee to ban abortion funding.

Pro-life advocates are concerned that an agreement could be reached and that the Senate would defeat it or President Barack Obama would sign the pro-abortion health care bill and veto the abortion funding ban.

That Pelosi is willing to negotiate after initially refusing to so may indicate she doesn’t have enough votes for Sunday’s planned vote on the pro-abortion bill.

Stupak said Pelosi and her colleagues "don’t have the votes, or they wouldn’t be talking to me."

Before the interview, Stupak announced a press conference with "other pro-life Democrats" he would not name for 11 a.m. Saturday morning.

He told The Hill he "hopes" he’ll have an agreement to announce, saying "there’s a proposal out there but nothing yet and we want to see it in writing and massage it."

Meanwhile, pro-abortion House members shuffled in and out of Pelosi’s office and left with bad expressions on their faces. The Hill indicates Rep. Diana DeGette, the Colorado Democrat who leads the pro-abortion forces, said, "Were not happy" in response to a question about the latest movement on the bill.

DeGette also talked with the Daily Caller and said the Stupak proposal is a "non-starter" and that as many as 40 Democrats may oppose the idea because "nobody likes this."

"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," DeGette threatened.

Asked if pro-abortion House members would be willing to defeat the health care bill over Stupak’s proposal, DeGette responded: "That’s it! That’s all I’m saying" and then added, "I’m not taking any bill down."

Rep. Xavier Becerra confirmed to the newspaper that there are "animated discussions" about abortion language that are taking place involving people on both sides of the debate.

Earlier Friday, before these developments, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has, once again, rejected a plea from Rep. Bart Stupak to agree to a deal to remove the abortion funding from the Senate health care bill in exchange for support for it. Stupak and other pro-life Democrats have been hoping to strike the abortion funding in exchange for support.

As reported, Stupak said this morning in an interview that he is still negotiating and still hoping for a separate bill to ban abortion funding.

But ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reported Pelosi said no deal.

“I haven’t heard any of that," she said about a potential bill to ban abortion funding to go alongside the Senate measure funding abortions, though she conceded, "There are members who may be talking."

“If you don’t want federal funding for abortion… and you want to have a health care bill,” she added, falsely making it appear the Senate measure bans abortion funding. “This is it.”

ABS indicates Pelosi said members may be talking about various things and dismissively mentioned Stupak’s name, adding, “But right now we are just getting votes to pass a bill.”

“This bill is about health care and not about abortion," Pelosi said. “There will be no further changes in the bill.”

West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall, another pro-life Democrat who says he will vote no if no deal is struck, joins Stupak in hoping something can be arranged.

“There could be some kind of commitment from the other body to act on this later … to ensure that the Senate language does not remain law,” he told The Hill. They are looking for “some type of language we can rely on in the Senate” and a “promise [from the Senate] to act in the future.”

Rahall said such an agreement would net Pelosi 6-10 votes for the bill.

“It’s pretty clear that [the Stupak amendment] is the will of the House,” he said.

But House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, a pro-abortion Connecticut Democrat, told Politico that Pelosi and her Democratic allies expect to win enough votes without the pro-life Democrats.

Politico also indicates that Stupak has been working with House and Senate parliamentarians on trying to figure out a way to get a sidebar bill approved — perhaps through the House and Senate first before voting on the pro-abortion Senate bill.

But any deal would likely require pro-life advocates to place their bets on the Senate passing a House bill to ban abortion funding, even though the Senate doesn’t have enough votes and rejected an amendment on the Senate side to do that.

And Stupak himself has said he doesn’t trust a Senate vote after the fact.

“Right now, they got the trifecta: They got the House, they got the Senate and they got a president,” he said. “So basically, they said, ‘Your right-to-life amendments are over.’ And they’ve proven that.

“So one of the offers is, ‘Why won’t you just drop this for now? We’re going to work on it later. This thing doesn’t kick in till 2018,” Stupak continued. “Well, jeez, after you tell us no to our face — ‘You’re never going to get anything’ — why would I suddenly think you’re going to give me something now? I’m a little slow, but I’m not that slow.”

Under the Senate health care bill that will be the main bill Obama and Democrats push through Congress, there is no ban on abortion funding. While some states can opt out of funding abortions under the plan, taxpayers in other states will be forced to pay for them.

But the bill contains other pro-abortion problems that are concerns for pro-life advocates.

The bill requires that at least one health care plan be promoted across the country that pays for abortions, more abortion funding would come via the affordability credits, and many of the so-called limits on abortion funding in the Senate bill are temporary and could expire or be overturned at a later date.

The Senate health care bill also pays for abortions under the Indian Health Service program.

And it contains the Mikulski amendment that would allow the Obama administration to define abortion as preventative care and force insurance plans to pay for abortions.

Finally, the Senate bill does not contain language needed to offer full conscience protection for pro-life medical workers and facilities.

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