President Obama’s new (sort of) plan for reforming health care received a blow today when Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) termed it “unacceptable.” Stupak was a key vote in favor of the House version of Obamacare last year. However, he cast that vote only because the legislation banned federal funding for abortions. Stupak finds the latest incarnation of Obamacare unacceptable because it “encompasses the Senate language allowing public funding of abortion.”
The House version passed last year by a vote of 220-215. As John McCormack of the Weekly Standard notes:
Pelosi’s coalition of 220 who voted yes in November is now down to 215–fewer than she needs to pass the bill–with one death (John Murtha), one retirement (Robert Wexler), one impending retirement (Neil Abercrombie), two switches from yes to no (Bart Stupak and Joseph Cao).
Where will Pelosi find the extra votes? There may be a few members who were prepared to vote “yes” before were let off-the-hook because the leadership didn’t need their vote. But will these members be willing to get “on-the-hook” in the aftermath of Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts?
There are a few Democratic representatives who voted “no” but have since said they will not seek re-election or election to another offiice. Free from having to face voters, these members may now feel free to vote “yes.” There are, according to Jim Geraghty, three of them (John Tanner and Bart Gordon of Tennessee and Brian Baird of Washington). Their votes may be back in play although I wouldn’t assume they will flip.
In any event, there are likely to be former “yes” voters other than Stupak and Cao who are prepared to switch to “no.” For example, Stupak had at least ten members in his coalition that conditioned a “yes” vote on tough anti-abortion lanaguage. It’s reasonable to expect many, if not all, of these members to agree with Stupak that the new lanaguage is unacceptable and/or to use the new abortion language as a pretext for voting against a bill they know is unpopular in their district.
Pelosi would seem to have her work cut out for her.