The future of the Stupak amendment, cont’d

THE FUTURE OF THE STUPAK AMENDMENT, CONT’D…. Earlier in the week, President Obama signaled that the Stupak amendment will have to be changed. He told ABC News’ Jake Tapper that “there there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo.”

The point being, the Stupak measure would change the status quo.

This morning, David Axelrod expressed a very similar sentiment.

Axelrod also addressed the House health care bill’s Stupak amendment, which would prevent federal subsidies for abortions. Axelrod said that the president doesn’t believe health care reform “should change the status quo” and that “this shouldn’t be a debate about abortion” — while also acknowledging that “the bill Congress passed does change the status quo.”

This, fortunately, also comes on the heels of Sen. Bob Casey’s (D-Pa.) encouraging remarks on the Stupak measure. Casey, a leading pro-life Democrat, said he believes “health care reform should not be used to change longstanding policies regarding federal financing of abortion which has been in place since 1976.”

And then, there’s the problematic members. Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the most conservative Democrat in the chamber, said through a spokesperson this week that he was “pleased” with the Stupak amendment, and is “highly unlikely” to vote for reform unless it includes language to “clearly prohibit federal dollars from going to abortion.”

This morning, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), another center-right Dem, said the Senate’s reform bill will die unless it restricts public funding of abortion. “What is clear is at the end of the day, for this bill to be successful, that there cannot be taxpayer funding of abortion,” Conrad said. He added, “It was clear in the House. It’ll be clear in the Senate.”

Now, if you read the quotes carefully, neither Nelson nor Conrad specifically said the exact Stupak amendment has to be in the Senate bill. They want restrictions, and the leadership intends to offer some. At this point, it seems highly unlikely that the Stupak measure will be added to the Senate bill — there’s no way there are 60 votes for it — and the insiders I’ve talked to expect a thread-the-needle compromise to come together before a floor vote.

Who hates that compromise most — and how many votes they can pull together to oppose the eventual bill — remains to be seen.