Rep. Diana DeGette got a lot of publicity for generating a letter vowing to vote against any bill that returns to the House from conference committee with the Stupak amendment intact. She claims to have at least 41 names on that letter, more than enough to block the bill from going forward. But days after making that vow, she has yet to release those names publicly. She has released the text of the letter, but not the identities of anyone who signed it, even though she reportedly collected those signatures within an hour of the vote.
DeGette has released a letter to the President asking for a meeting about the Stupak amendment on the week of November 16th. So it’s fair to say that the pro-choice block comes out of the 90 members who signed that letter. I can confirm at least one of them today so far.
Rep. Judy Chu, who replaced Hilda Solis in Congress when she became the Secretary of Labor, confirmed to me today that she is a co-signer of the DeGette letter. She would not vote for a health care bill if it came out of conference with the Stupak amendment intact.
Chu joins DeGette and some other members of Congress who have made similar statements. Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley of Illinois both took the pledge yesterday.
“If left as is the health care reform bill would be the largest repeal of anti-choice laws in nearly four decades,” Schakowsky said in a statement emailed my way. “I will continue to work with the Senate and the Conference Committee to make the bill acceptable, but cannot and will not support health care reform that blatantly discriminates against women.”
Quigley was more blunt: “If choice is out, so am I.”
Joining them is Rep. Michael Capuano, who is locked in a primary for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy. Capuano strangely attacked Martha Coakley, the state Attorney General and front-runner in the race, for saying she would not have voted for the House health care bill with that anti-choice language. He called the quote “manna from heaven.” Within one day, Capuano did a 360 . . . and is now lining up with Coakley:
U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Michael Capuano now says he would vote no on a healthcare overhaul in the Senate, if it still contains restrictions on abortion.
On Saturday, Capuano voted against the Stupak-Pitts amendment that would not allow federal insurance to provide coverage for abortion procedures, but then voted for the bill.
Monday, he sharply criticized one of his opponents, Attorney General Martha Coakley, for saying she would not have voted for the bill if it had the same restrictions. Just one day later, Capuano said that if the abortion provision makes it into the final bill, he would vote it down.
Capuano says his vote in the House Saturday was aimed at keeping the bill alive, and that he hopes U.S. Senators will strip the abortion provision from the bill.
It’s embarrassing for Capuano to have to take up Coakley’s position within 24 hours, but it shows the importance of the issue to Democratic voters.
We’re at 5 names. I’ll be tracking this count down as we go on.