Friday, March 19, 2010

Whip Count/Even More Obscure Procedural Stuff

Tonight's topic is "enrollment corrections resolutions" and the Stupak amendment.  I could try to explain it, but really, this is way beyond my comfort zone, and who needs me when David Dayen has Sarah Binder.  So go over there if you want to know the procedural details.  Short version: it's unclear whether this can be done or not, both technically and politically.  I guess we'll learn more tomorrow.

Two things to add in which I differ from Dayen (who is doing a great job of reporting).  The first is not so much a difference, but an observation.  What Stupak seems to want, above all, is to emerge from this with his pro-life credentials intact.  At least, that's my guess.  If that's so, then it's possible that he would be satisfied with one more effort to get his language included -- even if he knows it won't work.  Now, I'm not saying that's happening...really, as far as I can tell we can't say for sure exactly what is being proposed, and what anyone's bottom line is.  But keep in mind that it could be for show on his part (of course, the same could be true of the pro-choice objections to this latest twist). 

The second thing, and here I really do differ from the way Dayen presents his whip counts, is that I don't believe that a "no" is always a no.  I do believe that a yes is permanent (at least unless the bill changes, as seen with the abortion provisions).  But a no could be a no, or a bargaining position, or a bluff, or a quieter resting place than undecided for those who are in fact undecided -- or, more realistically, those who know that if their vote is needed they'll need to deliver it. 

Remember: it's very unlikely that any of the Democrats that have been on the fence in the last week actually want the bill to fail.  They're trying to arrange to have the bill pass without their votes (or, possibly, want to vote for it but want something specific in return)..  What Nancy Pelosi (and the White House) are doing is coordinating them, not fighting against them.  Doesn't guarantee she'll succeed, but it should be in principle a difficult but possible task.


  1. Stupak's statements sound like he knows that the hard position to force his language into the House bill is too hard for the present circumstances, but he doesn't know how to back down.

    I suspect he knows the differences between his language and the Senate language are minor in practice, and not worth tanking the whole project.

    Therefore he has his pride and his reputation to protect.

    On the other hand, if HCR fails it will fail by very few votes, and his reputation will not survive if he is the man who killed HCR over a few quibbles. He will become truly reviled.

    I see no indication that he is stupid, so I m sure he feels all of this.

    He may be angling to be the last man standing; the final holdout, the man of principle who cares so deeply about his pro-life position that he would not compromise... until he compromises (or folds). I would not be surprised to see Stupak come on board at the very end, with face saving public statements from the very top (Obama).

    If Stupak really becomes the man at the end who holds the fate of HCR in his hands he will have his moment in history, and I imagine that Obama and others will persuade him that the textual differences really won't seem significant in retrospect, certainly not important to explain the huge hit to the Party.

  2. Watching Stupak's moment in history...

    Obama gave him an executive order, and he is not going to be the man to stop HCR.

    Grim faces among the pro-choicers, but it is all about appearances here. Obama's order doesn't change anything. It is a fig leaf.

    Well played on all sides.


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