Eleventh Hour Negotiations on Health Care

by Benjamin Domenech on 7:42 am March 20, 2010

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On Capitol Hill, the Rules Committee is meeting this morning to run through some last minute amendments to the health care legislation. You can read those here. But they’re irrelevant — it’s clear the final standoff on Capitol Hill in the eleventh hour of the health care debate will be over Rep. Bart Stupak’s small band of fellow Democrats who oppose taxpayer funding for abortions.

The mere fact that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is conversing with Stupak behind closed doors at this late moment is a sign that she remains short of the vote total needed to pass the Senate bill, even after the imposition of the so-called “Slaughter strategy” to give political cover to members. There are still many concerns among Blue Dog Democrats that the bill in question will not sufficiently address the cost problems of the health care system, and the latest exchange with the Congressional Budget Office has done little to assuage their worries.

It is Stupak’s small coalition, which once numbered 12 but now seems closer to 3, who could decide the entire issue.

CNN reports today on the latest news, and progressives at FireDogLake have the language in question, which would be attached to the legislation via a “tie bar” which would require Senate approval.

Yet therein lies the challenge for Stupak: he is well aware that there are at most 45 votes for his provision on the Senate side, so an addition at this moment would be functionally meaningless. In reality, it would only give him and his small group the cover they need to support the legislation, even knowing that their views will not be honored.

Pelosi continues to work to flip votes in favor of the legislation, with several notable successes. But HCN’s unofficial whip count still has her behind by five votes as she heads toward the Sunday showdown.

crossposted at Health Care News.

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