Bart Stupak

Despite left-wing primary, MSNBC credits tea-party for taking down Stupak

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:13

Bart Stupak is retiring.  His seat, the Michigan's 1st, has a Cook PVI of R+3, so Republicans will probably win it given the current electoral climate.  But still, about all I can think to write is good riddance.

The tea-party is getting all the credit for this. For example, here is the MSNBC headline:


The accompanying AP goes on to mention the tea-party rallies against Stupak in his district.  It does not mention his pro-choice primary challenger, Connie Saltonstall, who has been running for a month.

This is not the firs time the tea-party has received exaggerated credit for a political development.  For example, even though polling shows the popularity of the health care bill actually rose during August 2009, conventional wisdom is that the  tea-party driven, angry town halls hurt the bill's popularity.

But power perceived is power achieved, and the tea party has dominated the perception game. They have become the latest in a long line of right-wing demographics that the political media has raised to the status of MOST IMPORTANT VOTERS EVAH.  A few years ago, it was "values voters." Before that came "security moms" and "NASCAR Dads."  In the 1990's there were Bubba's and the (slightly) less right-wing "soccer moms." And before that, there were Reagan Democrats. And the "silent majority." Etc.

It is hard to remember when the national political media ever decided the key demographics all politicians must pay attention to was important to focus on a Democratic-leaning or left-leaning group.  Maybe Latinos, but that is about it.  With little variation, the most important political demographics are deemed to be the most conservative ones.

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Stupak likely to run for re-election

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 10:02

Rumors flew around yesterday that Bart Stupak was considering retirement.   Facing a primary challenge from his left, attack ads from the right, and increased pressure in general now that he has become a national figure, his office was not ruling out retirement when asked about the rumor.  However, this morning it looks like Stupak will run again:

All speculation to the contrary aside, U.S. Rep Bart Stupak says he has every intention of running for re-election this fall.

The Menominee Democrat  told the Free Press on Wednesday that he hasn't made his final decision yet to run for a 10th term -- but that's only because he sits down with his family every two years just before the filing deadline in May to decide.

The filing deadline is on May 11th, at 4 p.m.  The primary is on August 3rd.  The district has a Cook Partisan Vote Index of R +3, which could potentially make this campaign competitive in the general election, too.

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Stupak Democrats to lose committee seats

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 13:02

A new statement from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer:

"The Leaders expect all House Democratic members to support this historic bill, and to do so without demanding new restrictions on women's rights" the spokesman said in an email. "There will be situations where we have some disagreement, but those Members who held the party's top legislative priority in order to send women's rights backward, it was a very serious matter and one that the Steering Committee will consider."

Pretty impressive.  Good to see Democrats starting to enforce some party discipline in order to stand up for core values.

Or, this is another lame April Fool's joke, comparing how Republican House leaders are actually threatening to revoke committee seats over something as minor as earmarks, but Democrats won't take action against the most serious instance of legislation hostage taking the party has experienced in a decade.

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Coming Unhinged On the Far Right

by: Steven J. Gulitti

Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 17:47

I for one am not surprised at the reports surfacing over the last twenty four hours that there have been attacks, threats and vandalism aimed at Democrats who voted in favor of health care reform. As of this morning there are ten such reported cases, including one that suggested Congressmen (D-MI) should drown himself. Congresswoman Giffords (D-AZ) had the windows of her hometown office broken by some unidentified projectile. There has also been a report of an attack on a Congressman's family member that if accurate, would constitute a federal crime.  Having witnessed Congressmen and Senators being spit upon and subject to racial and homosexual slurs by anti-government fanatics this past weekend, why would anyone be surprised by this latest display of incivility?

Shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that an increase in domestic anti-government violence was a distinct possibility. This report was the subject of much derision from the Right at the time but consider what has happened since then. Since the election of Barack Obama we have had a guy in Pittsburg kill policemen because he was angry that the government was now "Run by Jews" and that it would "take his guns away". We had a guy kill a doctor who performed abortions and then try to frame himself as a patriot in so doing. Sorry but murder is not patriotic. We had a murder at the Holocaust Museum by an individual who when captured said: "This is how you'll get my guns from me". Another anti-government zealot crashed his plane into the IRS building in Austin Texas as if that would in some way actually contribute to the abolition of the agency.  In reality, all that this action accomplished was the killing of an innocent man. Only the Pentagon subway stop shooting can legitimately be classified as the work of a mentally incapacitated person, regardless of his anti-government rant. All summer long we had to watch the farcical spectacle of Tea Party patriots playing minuteman by bringing loaded weapons to rallies while holding signs that suggested it was time for a second American Revolution. There are many who will read this and try to make an argument that political violence is now somehow justified, alluding to some sort of Revolutionary War fantasy. There has been all manner of infatuation with ideas of an armed "citizens revolt"; a military coup, even talk of an attempt on the life of the President, all of it being nothing more than the pipe dream of people who have now become political dead enders. It is to be noted by all that these far right fanatics have been aided and abetted in their dangerous fantasies by the reckless rhetoric of Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the professional political entertainers on the far right who masquerade as legitimate political commentators.  

The Republican Minority Leader, John Boehner (R-OH) has already issued a statement condemning violence on the floor of the House of Representatives. That is surely commendable as no informed observer of American politics would for a moment believe that the G.O.P. is in favor of such a thing. But I would also urge Congressman Boehner to direct his comments to some in his own party, like Michele Bachmann (R-MN) or those like her who have a history of incendiary anti-government rhetoric in their political track record. When an elected official engages in blatantly reckless and inflammatory behavior it only serves to stoke up the sentiments of those on the far right fringe and can serve, in their minds, as a "call to action." In his assessment of the Republican debacle that has arisen from the passage of health care reform, the veteran conservative commentator David Frum observed: "We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat. There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible... So today's defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, its mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, its Waterloo all right: ours." The degree to which increasing levels of political violence detracts or derails the message of the Republican Party in the future is unknowable at this time. But for an organization that is polling the lowest favorability numbers in its history, it is just one more reason for people to disregard the G.O.P. message on Election Day and one more problem the Republican Party can do without.  

There will be those on the Right who will issue the counter argument that all one need do is to look back to the sixties and you will find plenty of violence perpetrated by the left.  Some will conjure up the various red scares of the past and say that there has been more than on instance in American history where Communists in labor unions and among university professors sought to overthrow or subvert the American way of life. But you can tally up all of the left wing violence in the history of this country and you won't put a dent in the death toll from the Oklahoma City Bombing, an act perpetrated by a violently anti-government fanatic. It is for that reason that it is now the patriotic duty of every American to stand up to the fanatics on the far right, be it at political rallies, on the streets, in the blogs, by calling in to talk radio, by text messaging the Glenn Beck show, etc., or by writing to the media organizations that sanction such programming and registering you opposition to this virulent rhetoric that only serves to fuel politically driven violence and intolerance. The next time some right wing crackpot tells you that he and his compatriots are going to "take back their country" ask them from whom, the people who voted in the majority for change. It is time for Progressives to stand up to thugs and fanatics of any stripe, be they far to either the left or right, and to no longer tolerate threats of violence on the part of those who having lost out in the political arena, have chosen to attempt change through extra legal means.

In an interview following the attack on her office, Congresswoman Giffords said that America was a beacon around the world because we create change via the ballot box and not through political violence and intimidation. In thinking back upon much of the rhetoric from the right that has surrounded the advent of the Obama Administration, I can not help but to recall the warning that Sinclair Lewis made back in the 1930s: "If Fascism ever comes to the United States it will be wrapped in the flag and borne upon a crucifix". In spite of the fact that the country was in a far more perilous position then than it is now, Lewis' words were as relevant today as they were in the midst of the Great Depression and they should be on the minds of every true American patriot.

Steven J. Gulitti

March 25, 2010

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Weekly Pulse: Obama Signs Health Reform Bill, Backlash Begins

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 12:07

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Yesterday, President Obama signed health care reform into law. As Mike Lillis explains in the Washington Independent, the bill now proceeds to the Senate for reconciliation. The whole process could be complete by the end of the week. Republicans and their allies have already moved to challenge reform in court.

Legal challenges

The fight is far from over, however. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly notes that Republicans have already filed papers to challenge health care reform in court. The Justice Department has pledged to vigorously defend health care reform, according to Zach Roth of TPM Muckraker.

The legal arguments against health care reform center around the constitutionality of an individual mandate, i.e., the requirement that everyone must carry health insurance. This argument is specious. The bill characterizes the mandatory payments as a tax, and imposes a fine for those who don't pay their insurance tax. There is no question that Congress has the authority to levy taxes in support of the general welfare and providing health insurance to the people easily meets that legal criterion.

Dave Weigel of the Washington Independent reviews some of the other formidable legal barriers to challenging health care reform in court. But take heart, teabaggers! Birther-dentist-lawyer Orly Taitz is on the case.

Violent outbursts from reform opponents

Some anti-reform activists have resorted to intimidation.  Five Democratic offices were vandalized in the days surrounding the House vote, as Justin Elliott reports for TPM Muckraker. Someone hurled a brick through the window of the Niagara office of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the chair of the powerful House Rules Committee.

Slaughter is notorious on the right for drawing up the controversial "deem and pass" strategy for moving the bill forward. Her plan was never put into action, but she has become a target anyway. Another Democratic office in Slaughter's district was damaged by a brick bearing a quote from conservative icon Barry Goldwater: "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice."

Elliott notes that a conservative blogger in Alabama is doing his best to incite similar attacks, though it's not clear whether he instigated any of the original five:

...Blogger Mike Vanderboegh has been tracking the  breaking of windows at Dem offices after issuing a call  Friday: "To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their  windows. Break them NOW."

Reproductive rights take a hit

Anti-abortion extremist Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) failed to get his ultra-restrictive abortion language inserted into the health care bill, but the final bill does impede health insurance coverage for abortion.

For example, those who choose abortion coverage will have to write two checks: One for their regular premium and one for a dollar to go into a separate abortion coverage fund. Many analysts fear that the extra hassles will discourage private insurers from covering abortion at all.  Pro-choice activists were in a weaker negotiating position because, unlike Stupak and his allies, they weren't prepared to kill health reform if their demands weren't met.

The greater good?

Now that health care reform is safely signed into law, the pro-choice movement is stepping back and asking itself some tough questions.

In The Nation, Katha Pollitt argues that the pro-choice movement deserves to be rewarded for sacrificing its own agenda for the greater good. She suggests that the Democrats could reward the reproductive rights movement by fully funding the Violence Against Women Act, addressing maternal mortality and other policy changes to advance women's health and freedom.

Jos of Feministing counters that with their go along to get along attitude pro-choice groups have only demonstrated that they can be ignored with impunity: "You don't get rewarded for demonstrating a lack of political  power, you get further marginalized."

At RH Reality Check, Megan Carpentier argues that national pro-choice organization like NARAL and Planned Parenthood ceded their leverage too easily. While anti-choicers were beefing up their lobbying presence in Washington, major pro-choice groups were scaling back. Pro-choice groups compromised early and easily, perhaps because they were overly confident that their service to the Democratic cause would be rewarded in the end.

 

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members  of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse  for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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The Pulse: House Passes Health Care Reform

by: The Media Consortium

Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 11:20

Last night, the House of Representatives passed comprehensive health care reform after more than a year of fierce debate. The sweeping legislation will extend coverage to 32 million Americans, curb the worst abuses of the private insurance industry, and attempt to contain spiraling health care costs.
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Stupak on board (?)

by: Chris Bowers

Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 13:08

Reports everywhere now are saying that Bart Stupak is a "yes," agreeing to some sort of deal on an executive order.  If he brings his entire bloc with him, as appears likely, that would seal health reform passage.

What is not clear at this point is what Democrats gave up to get him on board.  More details as those come in.

Additionally, as the House starts debate, this is an open thread to discuss.

Update--CNN reports Stupak still a "no" Per BooMan:

CNN says Stupak is still a 'no.'

Also, Brian Baird is now a "yes."  That makes eight "no to yes." With Marcy Kaptur staying at a "yes," Dems would only need three of the nine other Stuapk bloc to pass the bill. The executive order deal, whatever it is, has probably secured that.

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Stupak situation still not settled

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 13:05

Stupak says he is negotiating with the leadership on the bill:

This morning, during an appearance on Good Morning America, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) reaffirmed that he might vote for the Senate health care bill if Democrats pass the Stupak abortion amendment as a separate measure. Stupak said that Democrats have shown a "renewed" interest in tying his amendment to the Senate bill

Pelosi says she isn't negotiating:

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was asked about Bart Stupak's suggestion that there could be another bill to address abortion funding and she said, "I haven't heard any of that."

"If you don't want federal funding for abortion... and you want to have a health care bill," she said. "This is it."

Leaving the he said / she said aside for the moment, Stupak still appears to hold the balance on the bill.  He may not have a dozen members anymore, but the vote is so close he doesn't need that many anymore to sink the bill.

To pass the bill, the leadership needs to have only one less "no to yes" votes than "yes to no" votes.  Right now, "yes to no" is running at least four ahead, and at least six of the "yes to no" votes are cited the lack of the Stupak amendment as their main rationale.

What this means is that, at least based on public whip counts, there isn't a clear path to passage at this point without either getting the Stupak group to cave, or caving to the Stupak group. And it isn't even clear if Democrats could make a deal with Stupak if they wanted to, given both opposition in the Senate, the threat of losing new "no to yes" votes such as Betsy Markey, and the rules on reconciliation generally.

I don't have any particularly deep insight into this, or any clever solutions.  It is just worth noting that the Stupak situation is far from settled at this point.

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He Took My Lunch Money, Or, Why Women Need Full Health Care

by: Natasha Chart

Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 08:00

Once more, with feeling ...

I'm not the only woman in the country who once had a partner who took my paychecks and deposited them in an account that I had no access to; not by debit card, not by checkbook. That started the first year we were married, when I was 18 and I balanced our checkbook wrong. Did I get to revoke his bank privileges later on when he would be late with rent, didn't pay our utility bills, or threw money away on expensive outings and crazy schemes? No.

Years later, at 22, I still had to ask for lunch money every week to take to work, something he'd often conveniently forget about if he was in a bad mood. He was often in a bad mood. My workweek lunch money regularly came out of the change jar and only covered vending machine snacks.

If I'd had a child from that relationship, one way or another, it would have meant two decades of that creep still messing with my head on a daily basis--a fate I was saved from only by a miscarriage brought on by a 2 lb. ovarian cyst, which my Catholic hospital doctor told me couldn't be operated on unless I did miscarry on my own--so lucky me. And he only hit me once in five years, threatened and starved me, so I didn't have it nearly as bad as some of the women for whom the Senate abortion coverage restrictions might as well be a hand covering their mouths and holding them down.

The fact is that reproductive coercion, including sabotaging of birth control, pressuring partners into unprotected sex and outright rape are part of the regular toolkit of abusers who want to keep a partner tightly under their thumb. The term "rape exception" in abortion law circles seems to lead people to think that coercive sex is exceptional, unusual, even if women are supposed to always be expecting it, but coercive sex is a common part of many women's experiences and a third of us will be abused in our lifetimes.

Most women's abusive partners don't outright prostitute them to strangers, but the daily shame, the degradation, the emotional abuse and complete control are the same from the garden variety misogynist legislator to the patriarchal childbirth fetishist.

Under the Senate system which makes abortion part of the initial purchasing decision, a woman's employer, male partner or parents can all potentially prevent her getting insurance coverage for it, whereas now, it usually doesn't come up because most private plans just cover it. Now, of the one in three women likely to need an abortion in her life, millions of women never have to have that conversation. Under the current wording of the health bill, that second check is the federal spousal and parental notification law that never managed to pass.

Then if the administrative expenses and familial approval weren't enough, the second check creates a stigmatizing paper trail for anyone worried about public pressure or vulnerable to retribution by disapproving superiors. Even people who might support abortion might be pressured into dropping plans that cover it and one way or another, abortion coverage will end. That's always been the point of both the Stupak amendment and Nelson's Senate compromise, which will simply work more slowly to eradicate insurance coverage of abortion.

And you might say, well, it's just writing another check for $1. Or you might say, hey, even if the insurance doesn't cover abortion, lots of women will still be able to afford it. And then I'll tell you, look, you don't get it, that's not the point.

Because he used to take my lunch money, and I had nothing, nothing, that he would not allow, no matter what our household income was.

Women, who earn less, who are commonly responsible for the most time-consuming parts of the parenting saga, who are discriminated against by their employers for being parents, who are more likely to be abused, who bear all the health risks of pregnancy and childbirth, can never be fully equal in a society that doesn't prioritize and normalize our access to all forms of reproductive health care. When our health care is stigmatized, we are stigmatized. When it seems normal that men we don't know get to decide if we'll be forced into a two decade commitment, it's only natural that men we do know might think they have the right to decide that for us, too.

If you still want to pass this health insurance reform bill, and I understand why so many people do, understand the cost. Somewhere, right now, he's taking her lunch money, and this bill will let him force her into motherhood, too.

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Weekly Pulse: Pelosi Makes Her Move; GOP Rep. Calls for Coup

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 12:08

Weekly Pulse: Pelosi Makes Her Move; GOP Rep. Calls for Coup

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has laid out a strategy to pass health care reform in the next couple of days by allowing the House to vote on the details of the reconciliation package instead of the Senate bill itself. As usual, progressives are fretting that winning will make them look bad. On the other hand, conservatives are baying for blood and calling for revolution.

'Deem and pass'

Nick Baumann of Mother Jones discusses the parliamentary tactic known as "deem and pass" (D&P), which House Democrats plan to use to avoid voting for the Senate bill before the Senate fixes the bill through reconciliation. The House doesn't want to sign a blank check. If the health care bill passes the House first, there's no guarantee that the Senate will make the fixes as promised.

Originally, the hope was that the Senate could do reconciliation first. The problem is that you can't pass a bill to amend a bill that isn't law yet. That would be like putting the cart before the horse. To clear that hurdle, the House will invoke a rule that deems that Senate bill to have passed if and when the House passes the reconciliation package.  It's sort of like backdating a check. Ryan Grim explains the process in more detail on Democracy Now!

D&P does not equal treason

Progressives like Kevin Drum worry that D&P will make the Democrats look bad. Meanwhile, the Tea Party crowd is calling for Nancy Pelosi to be tried for treason, as TPM reports. The bottom line is that D&P is no big deal. Republicans used the process 36 times in 2005 and 2006; Democrats used it 49 times in 2007 and 2008. D&P is constitutional. We know because it has already been upheld by the Supreme Court. Kevin Drum writes, "If you have a life, you don't care about the subject of this post and  have never heard of it."

Teabag revolution

There is no joy in Tea Party Land, as Dave Weigel reports in the Washington Independent. The tea baggers are frantically lobbying to stop the bill, but the reality is starting to sink in. Their leaders are shifting from trying to kill the bill to planning the tantrum they're going to throw when it passes:

While many held out hope that plans to pass the Senate's version of  reform in the House would stall out, others pondered their next steps.  Some, like Rep. Steve King (R-IA), took a dark view of what might  come.

"Right now, they're civil, because they think they have a chance of  stopping this bill," said King to reporters, waving his arm at a pack of  "People's Surge" activists forming a line to enter the Cannon House  Office Building. "The reason we don't have violence in this country like  they do in dictatorships is because we have votes, and our leaders  listen to their constituents. Now we're in a situation where the leaders  are defying the people!" Later, King would expand  on those remarks and speculate on a possible anti-Washington revolt  in which Tea Parties would "fill the streets" of the capital.

Sounds like King is calling for a revolution, doesn't it? As it turns out, that's exactly what he says he wants if health care reform passes. Eric Kleefeld of TPMDC reports that King is hoping for something akin to the uprising that overthrew the Communists in Prague in 1989. "Fill this city up, fill this city, jam this place full so that they  can't get in, they can't get out and they will have to capitulate to the  will of the American people," King said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

Women and health care reform

Health care reform seems poised to pass. Amid the heady excitement, there's a sense of gloom in the reproductive rights community. Bart Stupak was defeated, but health care reform will probably end private insurance coverage for abortion.

In The American Prospect, Michelle Goldberg urges feminists to support reform anyway. She argues that the women suffer disproportionately under the status quo. If reform passes, it will insure 17 million previously uninsured women. Expanding health care coverage might help reverse rising maternal mortality rates in the United States.

A recent report by Amnesty International found that at least two women die in childbirth every day in the U.S., a much higher rate than most developed countries. The anti-choicers had the advantage because they were willing to kill health reform over abortion. The pro-choice faction did not allow itself the luxury of nihilism.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members  of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse  for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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No, Tom Perriello is not in the Stupak bloc

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Mar 16, 2010 at 13:43

In response to a third-hand report that he would vote against the Senate health reform bill because it lacked the Stupak language, Representative Tom Perriello just released this statement saying the report was not accurate.  Here is a snippet:

"I have plenty of serious problems with the Senate bill and, until I see the final language, I cannot take a position on final passage. But the existing language on abortion in the current Senate bill meets the pledge I made to ensure no federal funding for abortion in this health care bill."

So, to everyone's surprise, a third-hand report from the National Review wasn't correct.

Complete Perriello statement on the flip.

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Stupak bloc crumbling (updated with more crumbling)

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 15:00

Now that it has been confirmed the House leadership is going around the Stupak bloc, it appears the Stupak bloc is crumbling.  Check out this CQ article where four potential Stupak bloc members disavow their membership:

Charlie Wilson , D-Ohio, who in November supported a Stupak-sponsored abortion amendment to the House-passed health care package ( HR 3962 ) and passage of the amended bill, is among those who has reconsidered his position. He said Thursday he is willing to vote for the Senate bill. Wilson said that while he would welcome any additional guarantee that no federal funds would be used to pay for abortions, he will not withhold his support if the bill is not changed.

"I'm opposed to abortion, and I think the language in there is pretty clear that it is not something that pays for abortion," he said [...]

Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said she wanted the abortion language changed, but stopped short of saying it is a deal-breaker for her. "I would not easily give over my vote for the bill" if changes are not made, she said.

An aide to James L. Oberstar , also previously thought to be in Stupak's group, said the Minnesota Democrat is undecided. "He hasn't ruled out anything, including voting for the Senate bill if that's an interim step to a better compromise," said spokesman John Schadl.

A spokesman for Steve Driehaus , an Ohio Democrat, said his boss has not changed his position opposing federal funding for abortion but had not decided how to vote. "He'll decide how he'll vote once he knows exactly what the House will be considering," press secretary Tim Mulvey said in an e-mail.

Unless a member of Congress says they will vote against the bill without the Stupak amendment, then that member of Congress is not in the Stupak bloc.  These four members--Dreihaus, Kaptur, Oberstar and Wilson--all equivocate here.  There is simply no "Stupak or else" language coming from their offices.  They are not Stupak bloc.

As such, here is an update to the Stupak bloc whip chart:

Seemingly Stupak bloc (6)
Marion Berry (AR-01)
Joseph Cao (LA-02)
Kath Dahlkemper (PA-03)
Joe Donnelly (IN-02)
Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
Bart Stupak (MI-01)

Possible Stupak bloc (8)
Chris Carney (PA-10)
Jerry Costello (IL-12)  
Mike Doyle (PA-14)
Brad Ellsworth (IN-08)
Baron Hill (IN-09)
Alan Mollohan (WV-01)
Solomon Ortiz (TX-27)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)

Not Stupak bloc (8)
Steve Driehaus (OH-01)
Paul Kanjorski (PA-12)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Dale Kildee (MI-05)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Jim Oberstar (MN-08)
Charlie Wilson (OH-06)

The most significant shift comes from Steve Driehaus, who had told The Hill he was in the Stupak bloc.  Apparently that wasn't true.  This reminds me of something Matthew Yglesias tweeted earlier today:

Dem public option doubletalk highlights weakness of netroots "whip count" strategies -- Senators are very willing to lie.

Apparently, they can lie about holding to their right-wing demands, too.  Or call it "wiggle" room, if you will.  Whatever you call it, one thing I have learned over the past few years is that many members of Congress, especially the moderate ones, are not leaders.  They avoid taking public positions, leave themselves tons of wiggle room, and outright flip their positions all the time.  It definitely is a weakness of the whip counts, but it is still useful to try that shine a light on Congress through those counts.

Update: Via lifeofriley in the comments, Kanjorski is out, too.

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Recognizing Female Personhood

by: Natasha Chart

Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 08:00

I'm delighted that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-USCCB) is getting a pro-choice primary challenger, Connie Saltonstall, to take him to task for shafting his constituents on health care in order to shaft the nation's entire female population on the question of their autonomy.

It's been a long time since the days when it was common for middle-class, adult white women in the US to die from desperate, illegal abortions, so the nation forgets how bad it used to be. Stupak has capitalized on that, on the acceptability of misogyny, in order to turn himself from 'Bart who?' to the man that's helping Catholic Bishops all over the country change the subject away from their decades-long tolerance of pedophilia and towards their attempt to impose theocracy.

Though if you were looking, you'd be able to tell that banning abortion was a cruel, abuse-enabling, sometimes deadly thing to do to women. Stupak doesn't care about that, nor does much of the rest of Congress. The president doesn't seem very bothered by it, either.

But hey, most of them can't get pregnant, so why should they give a damn?

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Ann Kirkpatrick not in Stupak bloc, leaving 6 definite, 12 possible members

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 17:28

Darcy Burner just sent me this over email:

Michael Frias from Kirkpatrick staff says she's def not a Stupak.

Good-that reduces the possible list of Stupak bloc members to 6 definite and 12 maybes.  Here is the ongoing count:

Definite Stupak bloc (6)
Marion Berry (AR-01)
Joseph Cao (LA-02)
Kath Dahlkemper (PA-03)
Steve Driehaus (OH-01)
Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
Bart Stupak (MI-01)

Not Stupak bloc (3)
Dale Kildee (MI-05)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Jim Oberstar (MN-08)

Rumored, but unconfirmed, Stupak bloc (12)
Chris Carney (PA-10)
Jerry Costello (IL-12)  
Joe Donnelly (IN-02)
Mike Doyle (PA-14)
Brad Ellsworth (IN-08)
Baron Hill (IN-09)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Paul Kanjorski (PA-12)
Alan Mollohan (WV-01)
Solomon Ortiz (TX-27)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Charlie Wilson (OH-06)

Come out, come out wherever you are.

Beyond Stupak, David Dayen and The Hill seem to have the best info on vote counts right now.  Glad to see more media outlets starting to report vote counts-it really helps add a big element of transparency in the whole process.

Discuss :: (16 Comments)

Health reform vote counting update: crowdsourcing the Stupak bloc

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 11:30

The House of Representatives is pretty far along in drafting a reconciliation "fix" to the Senate health reform bill, which they currently plan to pass a couple days after passing the Senate health reform bill.  Speaker Pelosi, four days ago:

And, indeed, leadership is pressing ahead with the legislative process. Earlier today, outside of a caucus meeting, Pelosi said Democrats had already drafted much of a reconciliation bill, meant to amend the Senate package, and sent "a bunch" of its legislative language to CBO.

The Senate seemingly has enough votes to pass a reconciliation bill now.  That doesn't necessarily mean that the Senate and the House agree on what should be in the reconciliation bill, and the House will undoubtedly wait on passage until such an agreement is reached.  However, it still means that the reconciliation "fix" to the Senate health reform bill is not the main obstacle to passing health reform.

By far the bigger obstacle to passing health reform remains Bart Stupak's bloc.  As this blog and many others have recounted on numerous occasions, Stupak supposedly has a group of about a dozen Democrats who voted "yes" on the health reform bill in November, but who will vote "no" this time around because the bill lacks Stupak's regressive language on reproductive rights.

In an attempt to circumvent this bloc, the House leadership seems to have secured the votes of at least three House Democrats who voted "no" in November: Jason Altmire, Brian Baird, and Bart Gordon.  Still, that is nowhere near enough to cancel out a dozen members of the Stupak bloc.  Additionally, Representative Mike Arcuri appears to be a non-Stupak bloc member who is flipping from "yes" to "no."

One problem is that no one seems to know exactly who is in the Stupak bloc.  There is a lot of speculation, but little confirmation.  What little information we do have is:

  1. Bart Stupak is definitely in the bloc

  2. Joseph Cao says he will not vote for health reform unless it contains the Stupak language, so he is in the bloc.

  3. Dale Kildee is not in the bloc, as Brian Beutler confirms:

    However, Kildee's office tells me that his name doesn't belong on the list--he's still reviewing the Senate language.
Other than that, we have a list of about 15 theoretical members of the bloc, with no confirmation one way or the other.  Here they are:

14 Dems who have voted with Stupak so far (which might be coincidental)
Carney (PA-10)
Costello (IL-12)
Dahlkemper (PA-03)
Donnelly (IN-02)
Doyle (PA-14)
Driehaus (OH-01)
Ellsworth (IN-08)
Hill (IN-09)
Kanjorski (PA-12)
Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Lipinski (IL-03)
Mollohan (WV-01)
Oberstar (MN-08)
Rahall (WV-03)

Three other members accused of being in the bloc
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Solomon Ortiz (TX-27)
Charlie Wilson (OH-06)

Given that is only 17 possible names, why don't we just call up these offices and ask something akin to the following question:

Is Representative [insert name here] insisting that language akin to the Stupak amendment be passed as a precondition for considering support of the health reform bill?

Or something like that.  It is only seventeen names, so it should be something that even a small news organization can pull off.  Further, the nature of the issue means that even an equivocation from these Congressional offices is actually a "no," making this a particularly easy bit of news gathering.  Either they are demanding the Stupak amendment as a precondition for considering the bill, or they aren't.  There is no "maybe" on this one.

The number for the Congressional switchboard is 1-866-220-0044.  I don't see any reason why we can't get all seventeen of these members on record today.  People deserve to know who the members of the Stupak bloc actually are.

Discuss :: (9 Comments)
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