"I called him," Stupak told me. "I called the president -- had a discussion with the president. And I read exactly what you just said. And he said: What it says is 'under my plan' -- meaning the president's plan. And I said: With all due respect, sir, you do not have a plan. The only plan we have out is the House plan. So, I don't know if it is a game of semantics or what."
Stupak said Obama did not try to tell him the House bill does not fund abortion.
I asked Stupak if, when Obama claimed "our plan" does not fund abortions, the president meant some plan that existed only "theoretically."
"Correct," said Stupak. "And when I pointed this out, he said: Go back and work with the people on your committee and get this matter worked out. Work with the speaker. Work with us, would you? And I said: Yes, I would. And we have tried."
All Stupak wants is a vote on his amendment when the health care bill comes to the floor. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have none of it.
"The speaker has told me I will not have my amendment," said Stupak.
He is now determined to defeat the health care bill itself if Pelosi does not change her mind. He intends to do this by defeating the special rule that would govern the terms of the debate on the bill -- including what amendments would be allowed. Unless this rule is first approved by a majority vote, the House cannot move to the bill itself. Stupak has a large group of Democrats ready to vote against the rule.
"There's about 40 likeminded Democrats like myself," he told me. "We'll try to take down the rule. If all 40 of us vote in a bloc against the rule -- because we think the Republicans will join us -- we can defeat the rule."
In the meantime, Stupak has made a request to Obama that he has delivered through White House advisers: Tell Pelosi to put his language prohibiting abortion funding into the bill.
"I believe based upon what he said on Sept. 9 and in my conversation that he would not like to see federal funding of abortion," said Stupak.
"We are calling the president to get his attention and say: We have tried. We have tried to work this with the speaker, and we have been denied," said Stupak. "Our last opportunity to get this in the bill, to avoid a fight on the rule, is if you call the speaker and have her put the language back in."
Stupak is waiting for a call back from the White House. Otherwise, the bravest member of Congress is ready to lead fellow Democrats into a massive battle on the House floor against a Democratic leadership intent on using tax dollars to fund the taking of unborn lives.
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