According to the Huffington Post, Diana Degette has agreed, on behalf of the pro-choice caucus, to the language of an executive order that the President will issue to address Bart Stupak’s concerns regarding the health care bill.
The Washington Post confirms that “it is likely at the very least to restate Obama’s commitment to upholding the Hyde Amendment” — which would effectively make the Hyde amendment permanent, rather than having to be renewed each year in the Appropriations bill. DeGette says that she would “would support that option, so long as Stupak’s provision is not given another vote.”
Members of the pro-choice caucus have said they will take their cues from DeGette.
Degette has steadfastly refused to release the names of the pro-choice members of the caucus who signed her letter saying they “would not vote for a conference report that contains language that restricts women’s right to choose any further than current law.”
Betsy Markey is one of the signatories of the Degette letter, and as she told me herself, she well knows that the language in this bill violates that pledge. They all do. But as the representative of the pro-choice caucus who agreed to the deal with the President, in the absence of the rest of the names on the letter, Degette is the one who has responsibility within the pro-choice community for whatever the Executive Order says.
I’ve asked DeGette’s office for the exact language that DeGette agreed to, and also for the names of the cosigners.
The buzz in the pro-choice community is that the Executive Order will simply restate Hyde — as if they hadn’t been working for years to repeal Hyde. And perhaps the signing statement will stop there. I find it hard to believe that the anti-choice members of the caucus who have held out this long will find that persuasive, especially when they’re carrying the banner on behalf of American’s United for Life, who want no money from the bill to go to Planned Parenthood clinics regardless of what it is used for. That’s what they have been holding out for all along.
Perhaps Stupak and his block were just looking for an out however, an excuse to drop their fight and vote for the bill without looking to the anti-abortion community that they just gave in to political pressure. And perhaps the anti-abortion community will be appeased with a simlly making Hyde permanent. It would be totally out of character, but I guess it could happen.
If, on the other hand, the President signs an executive order that satisfies the demands of the AUL, it could do to Planned Parenthood what they’ve already done to ACORN. And that could have very far-reaching effects. The “money is fungible” argument that Stupak has been advancing (which Rachel Maddow has addressed) could be applied to employer deductions to purchase health insurance, or money for small businesses to purchase health care, and on and on.
Where do you draw the line?
DeGette is taking an awful lot on her shoulders by being the only one to approve this. She’s in a D+21 district, which is why she can take the political risk of being the head of the pro-choice caucus in the first place. She gets enormous support from pro-choice donors, and the primary filing deadline in Colorado is May 27. When we put calls into likely 2010 pro-choice voters into her district last week, over 800 of them added their names to a statement telling her to oppose the bill unless the anti-choice language came out.
At this point, it appears that the only ones who know what the executive order will say are those who have signed off on it, a short list that includes DeGette and whichever members of the Stupak block were persuades to cast their votes.
If Obama issues a signing statement, someone is going to be disappointed. Either the Stupak defectors will not be delivering for the AUL, or Diana DeGette will have single handedly agreed to turn Planned Parenthood into the new ACORN.
I’ll be on David Sirota’s radio show at 9am ET Monday morning discussing it.