So now Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is saying that Sen. Ben Nelson’s anti-abortion amendment to the health care bill doesn’t have the votes to pass their chamber, which sets up an interesting quandary. Nelson says he can’t and won’t vote for the bill if his amendment or something equivalent isn’t in it and would actually filibuster it. Without his vote, the Democrats don’t have 60. So it presents another possible scenario under which a GOP vote is crucial.
To be clear, that’s taking Stabenow and Nelson at face value, which isn’t always prudent given that negotiations are ongoing and everyone’s words are usually chosen to achieve a particular end. On top of that, there’s no rule against saying you’ll vote one way, and voting another after deals are struck, compromises reached, etc. So perhaps the safest conclusion to reach is that the abortion language is either a huge sticking point or a very big bargaining chip.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.