The House passed the overall health care bill, which included Stupak's amendment. Stupak's success is expected to embolden abortion opponents in the Senate, where the action has moved.
"We are sticking to our principles," said Stupak, a 57-year-old Catholic first elected in 1992 who chairs the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations.
"We are in contact with senators to make sure our language holds. The other side is playing with fire," added Stupak.
Stupak smells weakness from the left, so he is planning to go for the kill. In an interview he said he will no longer accept a compromise that he was prepared to agree to only a week ago.
Would you be open to considering that 'Hyde-lite' language as part of the final package?
No. Why would I compromise now? I won the issue.
Why should Stupak even think about compromising? Obama and Pelosi bowed to the wishes of Stupak before, and there is no reason to believe they will not do so again. Whenever faced with demands from conservative members, the only tool in the administration's tool box seems to be appeasement. The president does not ever try to strong arm them, and as a result they have only gotten bolder and more outrageous in their demands. If you give a blue dog a treat every time he pisses on your carpet, don't be surprised when your whole house starts reeking of urine.
If the pro-choice block in the House is not serious with their threat, the Stupak amendment will be in final bill. It is the same thing with the progressive block on the public option. Obama is more than ready to sell them all out to Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, if they will let him. If the left of the party does not draw some lines in the sand now, and start sticking to them, they might as well stop flying to Washington. . . because they would be completely powerless. As big as health care reform is, this issue about who really controls the party is even more important.
Health care reform is the perfect place for progressives to hold the line and show their concerns must be taken seriously. The public option has massive popular grassroots support. Most importantly though, progressives will not back themselves into a corner where the choice is a bad bill or no bill at all. On this one issue, if they hold the line, they can force reconciliation, which will produce at least a decent bill containing a public option (and no Stupak amendment). If the Congressional progressives don't hold firm on this near perfect battleground, I don't see how anyone will ever take them seriously.