An Executive Order On Abortion?

The White House and Democratic leaders have discussed whether an executive order by President Obama clarifying federal policy on funding abortions might be used to mollify pro-life Democrats, still wavering less than 24 hours before the scheduled vote on health care reform legislation. Late yesterday, talks between the leader of the faction, Bart Stupak, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office broke down after pro-choice Democrats made it clear that they would not support a separate vote to add anti-abortion language to the bill itself.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Pelosi said that no add-on votes would be held.  "Not on abortion, not on public option, not on single payer, not on anything," she said. Meanwhile, at least three wavering Democrats have publicly committed to voting yes: Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana, Rep. Bill Owens of the Plattsburgh region of New York, and Rep. John Boccieri of Ohio have said yes. The American Hospital Association became the latest trade association to jump on the bandwagon, sending out a letter in support of the legislation.  But the news for the Democrats wasn't all sanguine: Rep. Tim Holden of Pennsylvania confirmed his "no" vote in a telephone call with President Obama, who is due on the Hill later today.

The most important hold-outs remain Rep. Dan Lipinksi of Illinois,  Rep. Glenn Nye of Virginia, Rep. Brian Baird of Washington, Rep. John Tanner of Tennessee, Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah, and Rep. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee.  Democrats need to prevent members like Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney of Pennsylvania and Zach Space of Ohio from switching their "yes" votes to "no." Carney plans to announce his vote later today, Roll Call reported. The Hill reported that Stupak had at least seven Democrats who will follow his recommendation.

Outside the Capitol, a few thousand Tea Party protesters milled about, chanting "Kill the Bill."  There is a report that someone threw a brick through the window of an office belonging to Rep. Louise Slaughter, the chair of the House rules committee.

Republicans have at least three different weapons to use if the bill passes tomorrow: several states attorneys general plan to sue over the so-called "deem and pass" rule; Senate Republicans plan to bottle up the reconciliation bill with amendments and procedural tactics, and, as David Weigel reports, a few members of Congress plan 10th amendment defenses, including Zach Wamp (R-TN), who said: "If we can't repeal this bill, every governor will meet them at the state line and stop them"

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Thumbnail image credit: Pete Souza/White House