A potential deal between House leaders and a holdout Democrat seeking stricter abortion language in broad health reform legislation collapsed early Saturday, throwing a wrench into a planned Sunday vote and outright threatening passage altogether.
Dispute over abortion language casts shadow on reform vote
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), a conservative Democrat who wants to strengthen measures that separate federal dollars from abortion services, postponed a scheduled press conference this morning.
“His plan to reinsert his Stupak language is not going anywhere,” said Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.) after emerging from a closed-door meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Stupak sought to offer a bill that would have copied his original anti-abortion language, passed in November, into a reform package expected to clear a major hurdle today with a final vote expected Sunday.
The congressman said he would vote against the reform package, possibly taking as many as 11 other Democrats with him. Despite being the majority party, Democrats have struggled to wrangle 216 votes needed to pass the bill.
But pro-choice members countered Stupak's threat with one of their own. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said members would withhold as many as 55 votes if the stricter language were adopted.
In November, more than 40 Democrats signed a letter saying they would not vote for final legislation if abortion provisions went beyond current law, DeGette said.
“If this latest amendment were adopted, we would be forced to vote for legislation that went far beyond current law,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Stupak said "discussions are continuing."
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