Pelosi: no side vote on abortion

PELOSI: NO SIDE VOTE ON ABORTION…. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) is pushing for a side vote on his odious anti-abortion amendment. Speaker Pelosi announced today this won’t happen.

Pelosi told reporters on Saturday there will be no separate votes on any proposed changes to the package at this point: “Not on abortion, not on public option, not on single payer, not on anything,” she said.

Democratic leaders have been in talks with Stupak about a complicated procedure that would give him a vote on his language but likely result in the Senate’s less stringent abortion language still becoming law. But abortion-rights supporters have vigorously resisted any accommodation to Stupak and his allies — a critical bloc of votes that leaders are courting to put the health package over the top.

In other words, no deal. There was talk that an agreement had been reached, but either those reports were erroneous, or circumstances led the agreement to fall through.

There’s ongoing talk about finding yet another alternative — specifically, an executive order from the White House on how funds can and cannot be allocated — but those discussions are preliminary. For now, Stupak’s demands will go unmet, and Pelosi will play her hand without him.

The ongoing question, then, hasn’t changed in quite a while: can health care reform pass without Stupak and his bloc?

And for that matter, is it possible to find members of Stupak’s bloc who might still be open to reason? It’s worth noting that Pelosi met this afternoon with Democratic Reps. Tim Chris Carney (Pa.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.) and Steve Driehaus (Ohio) — all three of whom are pro-life allies of Stupak — perhaps in the hopes of satisfying their concerns, if not the ringleader’s.

As of now, there still aren’t 216 committed “yes” votes. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who co-chairs the Pro-Choice Caucus and is a Chief Deputy Whip, said proponents are “very close.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), another leading pro-choice progressive, added, “We think we have the votes” without Stuapk and his cohorts, but that’s unconfirmed by any count anyone has seen publicly.

Meanwhile, six more uncommitted Dems have made their official announcements. Rep. John Barrow (Ga.) will vote “no,” while Reps. Harry Mitchell (Ariz.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Bill Owens (N.Y.), Baron Hill (Ind.), and Bruce Braley (Iowa) will vote “yes.” None of the six are switching from how they voted in November.

The number of undecided votes is down to about 20, and depending on which count you find most reliable, supporters of reform will still need about five to 10 more votes to get to success.