Who are the members of Bart Stupak's bloc? That is, which members of the House of Representatives will vote for health reform if it contains Stupak's regressive, restrictive language on reproductive rights, but will vote against it if it does not?
Lots of theories and speculation has been made to this effect, including my own. Now, however, I believe I can provide something much closer to definitive proof.
Stupak said the Blue Dogs have gradually been sending a message to leadership and that much of it goes back to a previous vote involving an appropriations bill that Blue Dogs wanted to include pro-life language.
In July, the House considered a Financial Services Appropriations bill that would allow publicly-funded abortions in the District of Columbia. Stupak and allies were not allowed an amendment, so they sought to "take down the rule" -- in other words, round up enough votes to deny he bill a chance to get voted on on the floor. When time expired, the pro-lifers had prevailed. But Pelosi held the vote open for extra time and persuaded four members to switch their votes.
They didn't win in the end, Stupak said, but they accomplished their goal.
"We wanted to send a message," he said. "We went back and I said, 'See, I can take down your rule.'"
This information, presented by Bart Stupak himself, is actually enough to narrow the potential members of Stupak's bloc to 17. Given Stupak's comments, only members of the House who meet all three of the following conditions can be said to be part of his bloc:
Voted with Stupak on his demonstration effort in July (Roll Call 553). If someone was not with Stupak on his test vote, then that someone is not really with Stupak (or is at least malleable enough to be separated from Stupak).
Voted for the Stupak amendment on November 7th. (Roll Call 884). If they didn't vote for the Stupak amendment, then tautologically speaking they are not with Stupak.
Voted for the House health reform bill overall. (Roll Call 887). If they didn't vote for health reform even with the Stupak amendment, then their objections to the health reform bill are not Stupak related.
There are sixteen Democrats who meet all these criteria, plus one Republican. Only these 17 members of the House can arguably be claimed to Stupak swing votes, since every other member of the House already broke with Stupak on a key vote. Here is the list (more in the extended entry):
The other eleven Representatives are either members of Stupak's bloc, or they are coincidentally voting with Stupak.
This range of numbers matches up pretty closely to what Stupak has claimed and what others have reported. Today, the bloc was reported at "roughly a dozen" members, while yesterday Stupak claimed "15-20." Life News also purports to have a list of the 12 members of the bloc. However, some of the names on their list have already broken with Stupak on one of the three key votes, so their list doesn't pass the smell test.
While this is not a final, formal list, I believe it is much closer than anything previously produced. It is also small enough that it can be finalized with media inquiries over the next few days. Stay tuned...
"I have conveyed to the White House that at this point I cannot support the agenda that's being pushed because of the federal funding for abortion," Cao said in an interview with CNN. "Unless the abortion language changes, I cannot support the president's program."
So, that makes seven definite, and ten potential, members of the bloc.