Democrats worried about Republicans' motion to recommit on Stupak language

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said House leaders are specifically concerned about a Republican motion to recommit that would contain only language on abortion that Stupak originally had wanted to include in the Senate bill.

The concern is based on the fear of GOP attack ads painting Democrats who vote against a motion to recommit that includes Stupak’s favored language on abortion as “flip-floppers” on the issue.

Sixty-eight Democrats voted for Stupak’s language in a November vote. They could be portrayed as flipping if they now voted against it.


“They are concerned about it,” Stupak said after his Sunday press conference. 

If enough Democrats with Republicans backed the motion to recommit the bill to committee, it would effectively kill the healthcare bill.

Democrats, however, said they expect the GOP motion will include other proposed changes to the bill, besides the Stupak language on abortion.

Right now the best defense House leaders have against such a prospect is a colloquy that Stupak will hold on the House floor to publicly reaffirm that the executive order upholds the ban on federal funding of abortion.

“One of the reasons for the colloquy is to get it out there that, look, this is what it's doing,” Stupak said. “Not only do we have the President's order, the legislative body understands the same thing.  We want to make it very clear.”

Stupak on Sunday won a deal with the White House, which released an executive order stating that the healthcare legislation would not change existing law preventing federal funds from going to abortion services.

That was enough for Stupak and several other Democrats to swing their support to the healthcare bill, likely giving Democrats the margin they need for victory.

During his press conference, Stupak said that he would be inclined to support a motion to recommit containing only his abortion amendment.

"Just that?  Boy that'd be a great day, wouldn't it?" Stupak said.

Speaking to The Hill after that press conference, Stupak said he won't necessarily make the argument that Democrats should reject a Republican motion consisting of just his abortion language.

“I don't know if I'll make the argument [to vote it down], but we'll do the colloquy to clarify our intent, the executive order that Hyde applied,” he said.

The Michigan Democrat admitted that the outcome of that vote would be uncertain.

"But we think that most of the members who stood with me throughout this whole process will also vote against the motion to recommit."

Some Democrats think Republicans will include elements of their healthcare alternative in their motion to recommit the Senate bill.

“If it's a completely stand-alone Stupak with nothing else on it, that would be great," said Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper  (D-Penn.), one of the Democrats who is supporting healthcare legislation because of the Stupak deal. “But I believe that there will be other things in the package.”

"I do not believe that they will just put out the Stupak language, because that probably wouldn't serve the other side's purpose," Dahlkemper said.

Republicans have not indicated what they will offer as their motion to recommit.  In November, after speculation that Republicans would use their motion to recommit to offer tougher immigration restrictions and force Hispanic Democrats to either kill their healthcare bill or swallow a difficult vote, the GOP at the last minute introduced an MTR consisting of tort reform provisions.  The motion failed on a largely party line vote.