In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Déjà Vu? Abortion Contretempts Still Threaten Health Bill

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Newscom / Jay Mallin

But that's not enough for Stupak--who knows as well as anybody that the Senate can't round up 60 votes for any abortion legislation, pro or anti. He's been pushing for a vote on something different, and much more obscure: what's known as an enrollment corrections bill. The details are complicated, but basically, it's a rarely used procedural technique that would allow the House and Senate to amend the Senate bill after it's passed both houses, but before it's signed into law. Stupak says it only requires 51 votes in the Senate. He also implied that passage of health care reform could be made contingent on the adoption of new, stricter abortion language.

Pelosi's gambit may be to give Stupak his vote to get him on board, all the while knowing it won't pass the House or the Senate. But that's a risk pro-choice members aren't prepared to see their leadership take.

No decisions have been made, but pro-choice Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) still insists that there are more than enough pro-choice members opposed to Stupak's abortion language to kill the bill if Stupak gets his way--and that, she says, will be Stupak's cross to bear.

Earlier this week, he signaled to The Hill that he didn't really want to kill the bill.

"You know, maybe for me that's the best: I stay true to my principles and beliefs," he said, "vote no on this bill and then it passes anyways. Maybe for me is the best thing to do."

But he didn't relent.

It's unclear how many pro-life votes Stupak controls, but seemingly enough that Pelosi isn't willing to flick him aside.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com