The House is in the midst of a 4 hour debate ahead of a vote sometime tonight on the health care bill. House Minority Leader John Boehner just asked Rep. Henry Waxman if he could guarantee that the Stupak amendment to prevent federal funds from being used to cover abortion will survive once the bill is reconciled with the Senate. The idea, of course, is that Democrats are using the Stupak amendment as a means to attract the votes of pro-life Democrats who are currently on the fence about supporting the larger bill, even though it could (and quite possibly will) be stripped down the road. In response to Boehner, Waxman said if the Stupak amendment passes it will become the position of the House heading into negotiations with the Senate, but he could offer “no guarantees” as to whether the anti-abortion language would make it into the final bill.
The vote on the Stupak amendment raises an interesting dilemma for pro-life Republicans. Do they vote for the Stupak amendment even though it will, presumably, make it easier for Nancy Pelosi to secure passage of the health care bill? Or do they block the amendment to help kill the bill as a whole, even if it means losing their best opportunity to make sure tax dollars aren’t subsidizing abortions? Then again, the best means of preventing tax money from funding abortions is to make sure the health care bill doesn’t pass in the first place. Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity is urging Republicans to vote “present” on the Stupak amendment as part of the greater effort to kill the bill. Of course, the risk of doing that is that they could vote down the Stupak amendment, and still see the bill pass anyway, only without the pro-life protections. Tough call.
UPDATE: Bart Stupak says there are 225 votes to pass his amendment, Roll Call reports..
UPDATE II: Boehner repeated the same exercise with the other relevant committee chairmen, Charle Rangel and George Miller, and neither of them would offer any sort of guarantee.