Much has been made of the fact that the abortion language drafted in the Senate health care bill cannot be altered now, under the rules of the reconciliation process. But it appears that the leader of the anti-abortion Democrats, Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., has found another way to strengthen the bill's ban on taxpayer dollars coming anywhere near an abortion. On ABC's Good Morning America today, Stupak told George Stephanopoulos that he presented a separate bill to Democratic leadership designed to fix the abortion language -- and thus earn the votes of 12 anti-abortion Democrats that Stupak claims will vote against the bill unless this is dealt with.
I caught up with Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Erie, this morning, who was a co-sponsor of the anti-abortion Stupak amendment in November, and she confirmed that she had been involved in these discussions. "It's a feasible way ... to fix an issue that we're all concerned about," Dahlkemper said. She said she is still reading through the reconciliation bill -- it put her to sleep last night -- and she had a couple questions, but Dahlkemper said that abortion is her primary remaining concern.
This new approach, apparently, is news to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who told reporters at a news conference this morning that individual members may be talking among themselves about this but she's focused on getting the votes, and she feels the current legislation maintains current policy on abortion. She has until Sunday to get to 216 votes, so we'll see if she needs the anti-abortion bloc to get there.
-- Daniel Malloy