As the vote drew closer, attention focussed on on Bart Stupak, the Democrat congressman who authored the controversial “Stupak amendment” on the original House bill that placed onerous conditions barring abortion provision from health insurance subsidised by federal funds. The last-minute deal was lashed together, involving President Obama, in order to win over Stupak and several of his allies.
Stupak held a late afternoon press conference announcing his dramatic change of heart, and pledged that he and several of his anti-abortion conservative Democrat colleagues would support the bill after seeing President Obama’s proposed executive order.
Adds The Bill passed 219 – 212. And, in the NY Times, David E Sanger notes
Never in modern memory has a major piece of legislation passed without a single Republican vote. Even President Lyndon B. Johnson got just shy of half of Republicans in the House to vote for Medicare in 1965, a piece of legislation that was denounced with many of the same words used to oppose this one. That may be the true measure of how much has changed in Washington in the ensuing 45 years, and how Mr. Obamas own strategy is changing with the discovery that the approach to governing he had in mind simply will not work.
Meanwhile the Obama-supporting Michael Tomasky adds
Under the deal, Obama will sign an executive order affirming that no federal funds can be used for abortions. You can read the order here. It doesn’t seem to say much to me beyond the fact of reaffirming that nothing in the act shall be construed to run counter to the so-called existing Hyde language that bars federal funds for abortions.
The mini-instant-conventional wisdom that I’m picking up, subject to alteration, is that Stupak kind of caved. Someone who was at the press conference says that someone read a statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops indicating a certain unease with the deal. I don’t know this firsthand, and I’ll report back as developments merit, and you can Google this on your own of course.