From David Chalian:
A vulnerable and still publicly undecided House Democrat provided some helpful words to Speaker Pelosi and her leadership team on the thorny abortion issue enmeshed in their battle to get 216 votes on health care reform.
Freshman House Democrat Tom Perriello voted for the health care bill last November in no small part because he also voted to include the Stupak amendment language which prevented federal funds being used for abortion services.
Today, he issued a written statement below stating his belief that the Senate language does NOT allow for federal funds to be used for abortion services.
“As health care experts and pro-life leaders agree, the abortion language in the Senate bill upholds the Hyde Amendment standard. The Senate health care bill prevents federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, as the Catholic Hospital Association and legal experts have recently stated and as my own research has confirmed,” he said.
Rep. Perriello continues to state that he is undecided on passing the Senate bill. But it is clear that his abortion concerns have been assuaged. His arguments will no doubt be used by Democratic leaders and the White House to try to convince other Stupak supporters who voted for the bill last November to do so again this time around.
Perriello represents the Charlottesville, VA area in a congressional district that John McCain won with 51% of the vote. Perriello’s victory was one of the most narrow in 2008. He defeated incumbent Virgil Goode by fewer than 800 votes.
His votes for health care, cap and trade, and the stimulus bills have caused him to be a prime Republican target in November’s midterm election.
As we’ve previously covered, 220 members of Congress voted for the bill when Pelosi brought the House legislation to a vote.
Since then, four yes votes are no more: Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-La., has said he won’t vote for final passage, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, retired to run for governor, Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., also retired, and Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., died.
That means to pass the Senate bill, Pelosi starts out with 216 members of Congress who voted yes last time.
With the retirement of Rep. Eric Massa D-N.Y., there are now only 431 members of Congress total, meaning a majority is 216 vote.