Coming Down To The Wire On Obamacare: Is The Stupak Block About To Cave?

Nancy Pelosi, I think, has got them all liquored up on sake and you know, they’re making a suicide run here. — Lindsey Graham

I’ve been extremely skeptical that Nancy Pelosi could pull in enough votes to pass Obamacare by Sunday. That’s in large part because up until yesterday, they were having very little luck flipping “no” votes to “yes,” there was a very large pool of Democrats representing Republican districts that were “undecided,” reconciliation in the Senate still looks like a jump ball, and of course, the bill is terrible for the country and extremely unpopular, while the process has been reckless, corrupt, and unconstitutional.

However, yesterday, things changed. Pelosi landed a significant number of what should have been very difficult to get votes including Harry Mitchell, Brad Ellsworth, and John Boccieri.

That being said, there are still enough “no” and “undecided” votes out there to sink this thing — so, they’re still not over the finish line, but it appears the Stupak block may be ready to cave.

All the details aren’t out, but they’re apparently working on yet another shady, unprecedented deal. Here’s the round-up from Firedoglake:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made a deal with Rep. Bart Stupak in order to secure his vote and that of other anti-choice Democrats for the health care bill, which is scheduled to be voted on this Sunday. According to a member of Congress who was briefed on the matter, Pelosi has agreed to let Stupak have a vote on his amendment, which instructs the Senate to substitute his language for the Senate language on abortion.

FDL has obtained a copy of the concurrent resolution (PDF1, PDF2, PDF3, PDF4), which includes cosponsors Marion Berry, Sanford Bishop, Joseph Cao, Kathy Dahlkemper, Steve Driehaus, Marcy Kaptur, Dan Lipinski, Alan Mollohan, and Nick Rahall. A second source confirms that with the exception of Cao, these are the members of Congress who are still on the fence. Cao is still considered a firm “no” vote.

The deal calls for Stupak to have a vote on his amendment either before or after the House votes to confirm the Senate bill on Sunday. Stupak is confident that he has the votes to pass the measure, and is happy to have the vote after the House passes the Senate bill. He believes that by using a “tie bar” approach, his amendment would be “tied” to the health care bill – which would require just 51 votes in the Senate.

Pro-choice members of the House, however, are demanding that the vote on the Concurrent Resolution happen before the House confirms the Senate bill. If in fact it passes, they plan to vote against confirming the Senate bill. They want Rep. Diana Degette to release the names of the 41 cosigners to her letter who pledged to vote against any bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose, and they are angry that the White House has been whipping to push through the Stupak deal.

This is a mysterious deal. For one thing, it’s yet another arcane procedure that’s being misused to try to pass this dog of a bill. Here’s a description, courtesy of Ace of Spades HQ:

What it looks like Stupak is asking for is to pass the underlying Senate bill and then a chance to vote on an “enrollment corrections bill”. Enrollment is the process by which the bill becomes an act and then is presented to the President. In short, they have to make sure the bills are the same before the Speaker and the President of the Senate sign it to confirm it’s been passed and thus ready to be acted on by the President.

These “enrollment corrections bills” are normally used to correct technical mistakes, typos or some other error that needs to be fixed before the two bills can be said to be identical and presented as one to the President.

In fact, using an enrollment resolution this way was so off-the-wall, my Senate sources were telling me last night that they didn’t even know enough about how this would end up working in practice to tell if the Senate Parliamentarian would allow it or what the GOP could do to stop it.

Moreover, Stupak has said time and time again that he isn’t interested in an empty promise. Has he finally caved? Is his block just looking for a way out? Maybe — but, if he somehow manages to get a proposal that can pass the Senate (which is, in all honestly, a huge, unlikely if), you have to think that a significant number of rabid pro-abortion supporters would bolt. So this much more fluid than you might think at first glance — if Stupak and company aren’t about throw a few million babies under the bus.

Additionally, there is one silver lining in this cloud: If this isn’t just a face saving maneuver to allow Stupak and his block to cave and pretend they’re still pro-life, then Pelosi DOES NOT have the votes lined up yet and she’s genuinely not sure she can get them otherwise. There’s no way a diehard abortion supporter like Pelosi would ever consider having something like this in the final bill if she believed she could get it done any other way. Incidentally, that’s not just my analysis. The folks at Firedoglake, who have been on point covering this from the left seem to be looking at this about the same way:

We’ll certainly know in the morning, but Nancy Pelosi is fast running out of options without members of the ubiquitous Stupak bloc. Harry Teague, one of the few remaining undecided votes, will vote No again as he did in November, blaming cost controls.

…Teague puts the definite No votes at 210, with five leaners, four of them part of the Stupak bloc. There are only 8 undecideds left, and 208 Yes votes with leaners. So Pelosi would have to get all 8, including Stupak bloc member Kathy Dahlkemper, and hold Marcy Kaptur (who probably shouldn’t be a lean Yes). Failing that, she could try to flip Glenn Nye, or go to one of her committee chairs voting No (Ike Skelton, Collin Peterson) and ask them to walk the plank.

But that’s a very tough road. And so Pelosi is talking to Bart Stupak. Because there doesn’t look to be another option for passage. That may result in an annual standalone vote on choice in the exchange. It may result in some “tie-bar” legislation (although that is procedurally unlikely). But it’s almost certainly going to result in something.

Last but not least: If the Stupak block caves, expect this bill to pass and four years of dirty, all-out political warfare over this bill to start.

If the Stupak block doesn’t cave, then this is going to be a real down-to-the-wire vote that could genuinely go either way. There’s a press conference today at 11:00 AM. We should know more then.

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