Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) got the House of Representatives to pass one of the most anti-choice measures in recent history by claiming that he had enough votes to derail health care reform.
Now, Stupak is threatening that there will be “hell to pay” if Congressional leaders remove or significantly alter his amendment in conference, when the House and Senate versions of health care reform will have to be merged and reconciled.
The question is, does Stupak actually have the votes to kill health care reform?
The following list are the 64 Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment:
The names in bold are those who voted for the Stupak amendment but against the overall bill.
It’s likely that those 20 members are going to oppose health care reform no matter what–if the restrictive Stupak amendment wasn’t enough to win them over then nothing in the final bill will.
That means there are 43 Democrats who voted for both Stupak and health care reform in general.
Let’s assume that the final vote on health care reform will be party-line, so we’ll start out with 258 yeas and 177 nays. Switch those aforementioned 20 votes into the ‘nay’ column and you end up with 238 for, 197 against.
If that’s where we start, 20 of those 43 members who supported Stupak and the overall bill could vote against the final bill and it would still pass, albeit with a bare minimum.
In order for Stupak to fail in blocking health care reform, we would need 23 Stupak-supporting Democrats to vote for the final bill without the Stupak amendment.
But wait, according to Rep. Stupak himself:
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) told reporters that regardless of the outcome of the vote on his amendment, which would severely restrict coverage of reproductive health issues, the House health care bill is headed for passage. He is whipping support for the amendment and estimates he has 225 votes. If he’s right, the amendment will pass, and he predicted enough pro-life Democrats will vote yes on the final bill to put it over the top. But if it fails, he said, enough pro-lifers — ten to 15, he said — will have been satisfied to have had their vote on the floor that they’ll turn around and support the final bill anyway.
In other words, 10-15 out of those 43 Democrats who both supported Stupak and the final bill will vote for health care reform anyway, even without Stupak.
Subtract those 10-15 votes from the aforementioned group of 23 and you’re left with 7-1. So, if just 7-13 Stupak-supporting Democrats are willing to vote for the final bill without the Stupak amendment attached, there is no way the gentleman from Michigan can block health care reform.
In other words, there is a very strong possibility that Stupak is bluffing and that he doesn’t have the votes to derail health care reform.
I’m not entirely supportive of removing all of Stupak in conference, but Congressional leaders should certainly keep this math in mind when deciding what the final bill will look like.
UPDATED: Just to clarify, my point is that–while 43 Democrats voted for both Stupak and health care reform–we can’t assume that every single one thought Stupak was necessary in order for them to support reform.
In fact, it stands to reason that at some of them supported Stupak but would vote for health care reform without it–in fact, Stupak himself admitted that quite a number of those individuals exist.
So, if you do the math you’ll find that Stupak has very little room for error–if just 7-13 of those 43 members are willing to vote for reform minus Stupak, then Stupak won’t be able to defeat the final version of health care reform.