DeGette says Stupak won't have the votes to keep his amendment

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) won't have the votes to block a health bill if it doesn't contain his abortion restrictions, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) claimed Tuesday.

DeGette, the co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, refuted Stupak's claim that he has enough votes to fell health reform in the House if leaders strip his amendment expanding restrictions on federal funding of abortions.

"I think he won't have the votes when people explain to those members what exactly the Stupak amendment does," DeGette asserted during an appearance on ABC News's "Top Line" webcast.

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DeGette said that while Stupak claimed that 15-20 Democrats would vote against a final health bill if it lacked his restrictions, many of those lawmakers already voted no on initial package of the House bill.

"What I would say is that there were 10, 15, 20 people who voted for the Stupak amendment and still voted against the bill in the House," she explained.

The bill passed in a rare weekend vote with 220 votes in favor of the legislation, a razor-thin margin for passage. If Stupak were able to carry new defectors to the legislation, it could threaten the bill's final passage.

DeGette said that lawmakers who'd supported the amendment previously had developed a new understanding of the implications for the amendments, and that the White House and congressional leaders had backed her effort.

She also said that religiously-affiliated groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which had pushed for the Stupak provision, should have a place in the process, but not the final say.

"Last I heard, we had separation of church and state in this country," she said. "I've got to say that I think that the Catholic bishops and all of the other groups should have input."

Note: An earlier version of this post misquoted Rep. DeGette as saying the bishops should not have input, but when in reality, she said they should. The post was updated at 6:00 p.m. to correct the quote. We regret the error.