Nancy Pelosi, healthcare bill passage, bishops, pro-life, abortion, Lynn Woolsey.JPGI am increasingly wondering how Democrats, particularly Nancy Pelosi, are going to get themselves out of this jam.
It is becoming clearer that while Nancy made an agreement with Catholic bishops to take abortion out of the healthcare bill, her liberal friends thought she intended to break that deal later….

We now know there were actually bishops in Pelosi’s office and she was on the phone to Rome before agreeing to the pro-life Stupak/Pitts amendment to the House healthcare bill. That was a serious handshake.
A Wall Street Journal piece today indicates Nancy Pelosi has a very real mess on her hands:

The last thing Democrats need right now is a fight over health care with a powerful group that ought to be an ally in the struggle to pass a bill.
Yet that’s exactly what may be taking shape with the nation’s Catholic bishops. The reason: The party’s liberal wing is trying to force a retreat from a deal struck in the House to ensure that federal funds aren’t used for abortions under a health-care overhaul. It’s an argument nobody seems to really want, over a subject almost everybody would like to avoid, yet it hangs overhead like a cloud that won’t quite go away:

This is an ironic twist, because just a few days ago it appeared that, almost miraculously, the House had succeeded in taking abortion out of the health debate, while also winning the votes of a crucial bloc of moderate Democrats and turning the bishops into one of the most potent groups of cheerleaders for getting a new plan into law….
From the point of view of the amendment’s authors, and the Catholic bishops who were part of the conversation, the effort was simply to retain a two-decade-old position widely accepted as the status quo:
If that seemed too good to be true, it probably was….
The Stupak amendment passed, with the votes of 64 Democrats. That cleared the way for some wavering moderates to vote for the broader bill, in turn allowing it to win final passage, 220-215….
Almost immediately, though, the Democrats’ progressive wing and abortion-rights groups began pressuring party leaders and the White House to roll back the abortion plank as the bill moves to the Senate….
Rep. Lynn Woolsey of CA, the co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, went so far as to post a commentary on the Politico Web site attacking the bishops for their role in advancing the Stupak amendment…. She even suggested that the government remove the tax-exempt status of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Other lawmakers said, in effect, that they voted for the Stupak amendment but didn’t really mean it, because they expected the amendment to be stripped out later, either in the Senate or in a conference committee.
As a result, Democratic leaders are in some danger of having the worst of both worlds: letting a compromise pass, thereby angering their liberal wing, while appearing cynical in suggesting that they now intend to drive it out of the bill, thereby angering the party’s moderates and the bishops. That’s a problem with consequences: The simple math in the House suggests the health bill wouldn’t have passed without the votes of the moderates who came to the “yes” side after the Stupak amendment….
The trick for Democratic leaders now is to find a way to convince all sides that the arrangement can survive the biggest health-care legislation in memory.

[HT: Dougy]

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