House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Saturday there wouldn't be any votes on side issues on healthcare legislation, including abortion.
Speaking to reporters just off the House floor, Pelosi made clear she wouldn't allow votes on "anything," including abortion funding, the public option, or a single-payer system.
The speaker's words effectively rule out the prospect of a deal with Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who has demanded, along with some allies, more stringent rules on federal support for insurance plan covering abortion.
Pelosi would not comment on speculation that President Barack Obama is weighing an executive order or signing statement affirming that the healthcare bill would not violate existing federal prohibitions against taxpayer funding of abortion services.
Anti-abortion rights Democrats who believe the legislation would nevertheless lead to federal funding of abortion remain unconvinced and a leading member of that bloc said Pelosi does not have the 216 votes she needs to pass the bill. If correct, this would give Stupak and his anti-abortion rights allies leverage as the House hurdles toward a vote Sunday.
Stupak still commands more than seven votes against the bill, said Rep. Dan Lipinksi (D-Ill.).
"They're still short on votes," said Lipinski, a Stupak confederate. "There's still time and they still need votes."
Lipinski noted that the agreement that led to Stupak's stronger abortion language in the original House bill came about at the 11th hour. "Last time, we know what happened: They came at the last minute so we're continuing to work on it." Lipinski would not rule out support of an executive action by Obama, but added, "I'll definitely have some questions about that."
Shortly after her comments, Pelosi huddled in her office with anti-abortion rights Democratic Reps. Tim Carney (Pa.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.) and Steve Driehaus (Ohio). After exiting the room, Dahlkemper told reporters, "We're still working on it."