Sen. Barbara Boxer said today in an interview with HuffPo's Sam Stein and Ryan Grim that efforts to add Stupak's Coathanger amendment in the Senate would very likely fail.
"If someone wants to offer this very radical amendment, which would really tear apart [a decades-long] compromise, then I think at that point they would need to have 60 votes to do it," Boxer said. "And I believe in our Senate we can hold it."
"It is a much more pro-choice Senate than it has been in a long time," she added. "And it is much more pro-choice than the House."
Boxer's reading of the political landscape might seem like the hopeful spin of an abortion-rights defender. But it was seconded by a far less pro-choice lawmaker, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
"It would have to be added," sad the Montana Democrat of an amendment that mirrored that offered Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) in the House. "I doubt it could pass."
The procedural aspect of that could, however, get a little dicey should Ben Nelson and Bob Casey actually try to introduce an amendment on the floor as they are threatening to do. Expect to read more from David on that aspect soon. The key thing seems to be to convince Nelson and Casey to forgo pushing this amendment, and that could be what Boxer is intending to do. Casey, when he's had time to think about it, might realize the potential of this effort in blowing up the overall healthcare reform bill entirely, and back off. Nelson might not give a crap if he blows it all up.
But there's one person that can exert some influence over Nelson, and that's Barack Obama, who stated very clearly yesterday that the Stupak Coathanger amendment goes too far in restricting women's access and in changing the "status quo" on federal funding for abortion. Perhaps a little direct pressure from the President on Nelson would dissuade him from pushing his own restrictive effort.
That statement from Obama, perhaps as well as some education from her fellow pro-choice colleages, seems to have swayed Claire McCaskill. Yesterday she stated that the Senate could live with Stupak, displaying a profound misunderstanding of how bad the amendment really is. So her tweet last night backtracking that statement was most welcome.
There's still a great deal of potential for mischief making by ConservaDems over this issue, and it's by no means gone. But the potential for keeping it out of the final Senate bill, and hence the conference report, is much greater today.
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