Politico reports that Steny Hoyer has “rebuffed” the White House on its March 18 deadline for a vote in the House on the Senate’s health care bill. “None of us has mentioned the 18th, other than Mr. Gibbs,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer explained that the disagreement about the aborion issue within the Democratic caucus “has to be resolved” before there can be a vote. In other words, unless this issue is resolved, there is no chance of passing the Senate bill. And there will be no vote unless the Dems can win it.
As to resolving the dispute, Hoyer said he has talked to Rep. Stupak about the issue. According to Hoyer, however, the conversation was brief and did not get into “substance.”
For his part, Stupak says he’s “more optimistic” than he was a week ago about resolving the matter. I think he’s saying that the White House should continue to court him, which it has every incentive to do in any event.
UPDATE: Stupak has told the Weekly Standard that he will not settle for an agreement to pass the bill now and fix the bill’s problems on abortion later. Says Stupak: “If they say ‘we’ll give you a letter saying we’ll take care of this later,’ that’s not acceptable because later never comes.” Stupak also emphasized that his coalition of pro-life Democrats is sticking together: “My numbers remain firm at 12. These are 12 who voted for it who will not vote for it unless we resolve this issue.”
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