Thursday March 18, 2010

Stupak: It’s Been ‘A Living Hell’

Dems to reveal reconciliation package Thursday

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2010 ( – Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) on Thursday was quoted in The Hill as describing the level of pressure upon him and his fellow pro-life Democrats to pass the health care bill as “a living hell.”

“How’s it been? Like a living hell,” Stupak told the newspaper, describing how his district offices have been “jammed” with strong feedback, much of it from non-constituents, over his opposition to the massively abortion-expanding bill.

The vitriol has even affected his home life, said the Michigan Democrat, who described the measures his wife has taken to block out the anger that is being directed at her husband. “All the phones are unplugged at our house – tired of the obscene calls and threats. She won’t watch TV,” he said. “People saying they’re going to spit on you and all this. That’s just not fun.”

Despite the enormous pressure, the former state trooper indicated he wasn’t about to budge. “I’m pretty stubborn,” said Stupak.

The Hill reports that the group of Democrat lawmakers who are prepared to vote with Stupak (Stupak confirmed there are still at least twelve of them) met Tuesday morning to strategize and commiserate over the heavy pressure.

Stupak lamented that his pleas to party leaders to allow his language, which provided a ban on abortion funding in the House health care bill, into the Senate version, have been ignored.

“In the past, we’ve always been able to work it out,” said Stupak. “This is the first time we’ve not been able to work it out.”

While many have singled out Stupak and his group to blame for holding up the bill, the lawmaker pointed out: “I can’t block it. Bart Stupak and his ‘dirty dozen,’ however you want to call it, we can’t block it. There’s 39 other [Democrats] who didn’t vote for it.”

Stupak noted that he feels conflicted because he does support health care reform – but compromising on abortion is not an option. “It’s a belief for me, so it’s easier to do,” he said. “And it’s a belief for my district, so I guess it’s easier to do.”

Democrats are expected on Thursday to unveil the reconciliation “fix” package, created to appease Blue Dog House Democrats’ concerns over the bill, which the chamber may vote on instead of the health bill itself. According to the scheme devised by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Senate health bill could simply be “deemed” to pass once the House passes the fix package.

While constitutional concerns over the procedure have already been raised – raising the spectre of the bill’s lengthy entanglement in the Supreme Court – even should it pass the House, Senate Republicans are warning that they will stop at nothing to keep the “fix” package from passing in the Senate.

Sources on Capitol Hill are now floating Sunday as the projected D-Day for the final health care vote.