Dirty Dozen: Does Stupak Really Have The Votes Needed To Sink Health Care?

March 8, 2010 4:45 am

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) is holding health care reform hostage over the issue of abortion. He says he can flip about a dozen “yes” votes on health care (including his own) to “no” votes if nothing is done about the Senate bill’s abortion language–which he and other pro-life Dems oppose.

House Democratic leadership is negotiating with Stupak, suggesting they think there might be something to his threat–and, of course, they recall November when his bid to insert restrictive abortion language in the House health care bill prevailed. So who are the Stupak-12?

It’s hard to say for sure–Stupak hasn’t named names. But it is possible to whittle down a list of likely suspects.Back in November, 64 Democrats voted for Stupak’s abortion amendment. Of them, more than 20 ultimately voted against the final health care bill, suggesting their problems with health care reform extend beyond abortion. That leaves 40-plus members who might conceivably flip from “yes” to “no” over the issue of abortion.

But at the time of the vote on the Stupak amendment, things were moving quickly, and many members were reportedly unclear what they were voting on. They also didn’t know that the Senate bill would ultimately tighten it own abortion-funding restrictions. How to whittle that list down?

Back on June 25 of last year, 19 Democrats, including Stupak, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisting “we cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan.” Of them, nine went on to vote for the House health care bill. One of them–Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA)–died earlier this year. The remaining eight are: Stupak, Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Jerry Costello (D-IL), James Oberstar (D-MN), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA).

That’s only eight, though. Who are the others?

The anti-abortion website Lifenews points to 10 Democrats who they suspect walk with Stupak: Reps. Jerry Costello (D-IL), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Steve Dreihaus (D-OH), Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Jim Oberstar (D-MN), and Charlie Wilson (D-OH).

There’s quite a bit of overlap here, but the new names are Donnelly, Ellsworth, Kildee, Lipinski, and Wilson. However, Kildee’s office tells me that his name doesn’t belong on the list–he’s still reviewing the Senate language.

These members are resolutely pro-life, but they’re not necessarily all dead set against the Senate bill. Last week, Oberstar spokesman John Schadl told me his boss “has concerns about the [Senate] language–he felt the Stupak language was better at upholding the idea that we should not be expanding abortion services, that we should preserve the status quo.” However, according to Schadl, Oberstar is convinced there’s a way to reach compromise.

So there’s some flexibility here. And with leadership and the White House teaming up to twist arm, it’s hard to imagine all of Stupak supporters will stick together. But at the same time, there’s some indication that when Stupak says 12, he’s not far off. A full list of the potential Stupak-followers below.

Solomon Ortiz (D-TX)
Jerry Costello (D-IL)
James Oberstar (D-MN)
Steve Driehaus (D-OH)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)
Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA).
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
Charlie Wilson (D-OH)

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