Stupak Sticks To His Guns, Blames Liberals For Abortion Amendment

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Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) says that House liberals backed themselves into a wall during health care negotiations, and got stuck with a harsher abortion amendment than they would have had if they’d just played nice. And now, he says, there’s no going back.

In an interview with The Atlantic, Stupak says “Speaker Pelosi went to present [House liberals] what she agreed to with us, that it would be part of a manager’s amendment…. [T]hey’re the ones who insisted, ‘No, Stupak doesn’t get to go in the manager’s amendment, we want it on the floor.’ They’re the ones who insisted on bringing it to a vote. They’re the ones who wanted to vote against me, they were the ones who said they would win this vote.”

If they hadn’t rejected the Speaker on Friday night, to use their words, there would have been a less restrictive amendment that would have been part of the manager’s amendment. They rejected that. They could not live with it. Even the less restrictive language. And therefore the Speaker came back and said, ‘Bart, I’m sorry, but our deal’s off. So I have no choice, because we made an agreement, I’m gonna have to give you an amendment,’ and I said, ‘Well, with all due respect, Madame Speaker, I’m not gonna send the amendment we agreed to, because if the deal’s off, then I don’t have to hold to that agreement, Hyde-lite, and I’m putting up the original Hyde language that I offered in committee, that Joe Pitts and I offered.’ That’s why it’s called the Stupak-Pitts amendment.

Given this history, and given that his amendment passed, he won’t accept any weaker language going forward.

“No, we’re going with current law,” Stupak said. “If current law is a class divide, then they must conclude that current law is too.”

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) says Stupak’s amendment netted the health care bill about 10 votes. Stupak is saying he’ll vote no on the final bill if his language is weakened or stripped, but it will fall to leadership to make sure that they can keep that handful of members on board for the final vote.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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