Earlier today I puzzled over what exactly Bart Stupak might be negotiating for:
What I don't understand yet is how the procedure would work. I doubt they can change any abortion language through a reconciliation bill. So would the plan be to pass the Senate bill through the House, pass a reconciliation patch, and then pass a third bill handling abortion? Or do they imagine some deal involving an executive order, a vote that may not take effect, or something else? I'd love to hear exactly what they're negotiating over.
Reader Eric Altshule, a former chief of staff to Bart Gordon (D-TN), writes in with a nifty solution:
In reading the excellent article by Timothy Noah, the solution for the Stupak issue becomes obvious. Stupak’s main concern is that the Hyde language fully extends to the subsidized policies available in the exchanges. However, the Hyde language is not permanent law – it is an amendment in the HHS appropriations bill that expires every fiscal year. That is the basic challenge – Stupak wants to make a permanent law that mimics a temporary law that is annually renewed during an annual appropriations process.
The solution is to get the Appropriations Committee to promise to include language extending Hyde to the exchanges as part of the HHS Appropriations bill later this year. It will be part of the bill (just like the current Hyde language), and while it can be taken out of the bill by amendment on the floor, there are not the votes to do that. If there is an amendment to repeal the Hyde language on the House Floor this summer, Stupak will probably welcome that. Stupak and all his supporters will have their unambiguous vote against abortion coverage in HCR, and they will win. Pro-choice voters will be disappointed in the HHS fight, but there will be no reason to vote against HCR now. Stupak will get his language exactly the way the Hyde language exists now, and we will all get HCR. It is a win-win for everyone.