The healthcare reform bill approved by the House will likely see its abortion amendment stripped, the House's third-ranking Democrat said Tuesday.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he believes that the amendment restricting federal funding for abortion will eventually be removed during conference with the Senate's bill.

"I think that's what's gonna happen," Clyburn said during an appearance on MSNBC when asked if Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-Mich.) amendment would be removed.

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Clyburn said that many other House Democrats supported the having a vote on the amendment in the House, with the expectation that it would eventually be removed.

"I agree that the language approved by the House is unacceptable," Clyburn explained. "We were doing what was necessary to do to put the bill on the floor in about 12 hours."

House liberals have openly threatened to kill a final health bill if it contains restrictions on abortion like those included in the House's legislation, though it's not clear how removing the provision would affect centrist Democrats' vote on final passage.


Clyburn said that the amendment had been necessary to win only a handful of votes, not the 40-some Democratic vote Stupak had expected to rally against the bill unless it included the abortion amendment.

"It was only 10 or 11 votes; that's the fact," Clyburn asserted. "This language took us across the threshold of 218."

Echoing other Democratic leaders, including President Barack Obama, the third-ranking Democrat in the House said that the bill needs to preserve the status quo on federal funding for abortions, which Clyburn said was represented in the Hyde Amendment.

"As long as this does not go beyond the Hyde Amendment, I think we'll be fine," Clyburn said.


Update, 2:42 p.m.: National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokeswoman Joanna Burgos accused Clyburn of performing a "bait-and-switch" on Catholic bishops during the House health vote.

"Now we are hearing it straight from the mouth of a member of the Democratic leadership. The last-minute maneuvering by Democrats in Congress to strip provisions allowing for taxpayer-funded abortions was nothing more than a shell game," Burgos said. "The Speaker of the House pulled a bait-and-switch on the Catholic Church in what can only be perceived as a cruel and morally-questionable political hoax."