Family Member Stupak Says He Can Block Health Care Bill
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Nov 06, 2009 at 07:22:50 PM EST
Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich) has repeatedly protested that he isn't trying to kill health care reform. But, as Stupak told the arch-conservative CNSNews service on Thursday November 5th, he hasn't been able to reach a compromise with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concerning language dealing with abortion in the H.R. 3962 health care bill. So Stupak is still poised to enact his threat to lead a block of Democrats up to forty strong to join with Republicans and block the health care bill from getting to the House floor when it comes up for a vote, either over the weekend or early next week.
While Republicans have indicated that they consider the block of antiabortion, pro-life Democrats Stupak leads as their last best chance for sinking the Democrats' health care reform effort, Stupak says his threatened insurgency would be driven simply by his absolute refusal to allow any federal dollars to subsidize abortions under a new health care system.

[below: Bart Stupak trells CNSnews about his plan to block H.R. 3962 from coming up for a vote.]


Stupak's position could hardly be better crafted to create an unresolvable impasse and that, in conjunction with his close association with the fundamentalist antidemocratic Washington influence peddling group known as The Family which some accuse of being an unregistered lobby, raises troubling questions.

Bart Stupak has denied being involved with or knowing about The Family, but he has for years enjoyed Family-subsidized subsidized rent at the organization's now-notorious C Street House that is legally registered as a church. Stupak also is co-chair of The Family's House Prayer Breakfast and has twice spoken at the Family's yearly National Prayer Breakfast event.

As I described in detail in an October 22, 2009 story, among Bart Stupak's fellow Family members and C Street Housemates are Republicans who have been most noisily working to block health care reform - including Jim DeMint who, in a July 17th conference call told conservative activists that "...if we're able to stop Obama on this [health care] it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

Along with Republican Chris Smith (R-NJ), Stupak is co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus. At a faux-Townhall event held September 18th, 2009 during the Family Research Council's Values Voter convention, Republicans wholly opposed to the H.R. 3962 health care bill identified the block of antiabortion Democrats Congressman Stupak leads as representing the best chance the GOP has to stop health care reform altogether.

During the event, Rep. Smith said the Pro-Life Democrats played a "magnificent" role in blocking "HillaryCare" during the Clinton Administration and he praised Rep. Stupak as "absolutely valiant and brave and courageous, and very smart."

In numerous media appearances, mainly on right wing and Christian conservative venues, Stupak has vowed move to block the H.R. 3962 health care bill from getting to the House floor because House leadership has prevented any amendments, including the one Stupak co-authored with Joe Pitts (R-PA) from being attached to the bill. The Stupak-Pitts amendment would attach to H.R. 3962 language of the Hyde amendment, which blocks federal funds from paying for abortions except in cases of rape or incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

Stupak's unyielding position seems perfectly tailored to monkeywrench the health care bill ; according to pro-choice reproductive rights groups, by prohibiting private health care providers that participate in the proposed national health care system from offering abortion coverage, the amendment would further reduce the already limited access most Americans have to abortion services, which are unavailable, according to the Guttmacher Institute, in 87% of American counties. But antiabortion leaders have insisted that under both the current bill, and also under an amendment crafted as a compromise to resolve the impasse (the Capps amendment), federal money would, either directly or indirectly, wind up funding abortions. According to Bart Stupak that's simply an unacceptable outcome. But if Stupak gets his way, reproductive rights supporters in the House might pull their support for the health care bill.

From its early years The Family, which was founded in the 1930's to oppose labor unions and runs the National Prayer Breakfast, has worked to undo Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The group, otherwise known as The Fellowship, functions as one of Washington DC's most powerful unregistered lobby groups according to journalist Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at The Heart of American Power. The Family specializes in backroom politics and seemingly innocuous legislative measures, advanced by Family members, which quietly undermine separation of church and state and advance the group's fundamentalist and theocratic agenda.

One example comes from Congressman Stupak himself. As reported by Michigan Messenger, in an October 22, 2009 story by Ed Brayton,

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak has reconsidered earlier legislation that would have given several acres of Coast Guard property in Cheboygan to a Christian school free of charge after constitutional law scholars pointed out that the land transfer would violate the First Amendment separation between church and state.

But the Family also operates on a less parochial level. In 1996, as he describes in his 2006 book Tempting Faith, Family member David Kuo, formerly second in command at the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives, worked under then-Senator and Family member John Ashcroft to craft an amendment, inserted into the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which allowed federal funds to flow directly to religious charities. During the years of the Bush Administration the rule change set up a critical source of new funding for Christian conservative activists, via the Bush Administration's Faith Based initiative that at its peak was doling out several billion dollars a year to poorly monitored or regulated church-based government service efforts.

The Family also promotes falsified American history, to advance the claim that the United States was founded expressly as a Christian nation.

In an interview for a ground-breaking 2002 LA Times article on The Family by journalist Lisa Getter, Stupak indicated he considered himself bound by a C Street House or Family code of secrecy, telling Getter, "We sort of don't talk to the press about the house."

Over Summer 2009, as a trio of sex scandals which enveloped three national GOP politicians who have lived at or been associated with the house broke, and the C Street House became a subject of national interest, Stupak denied belonging to the The Family. As Bart Stupak told Michigan Messenger's Ed Brayton,

"I don't belong to any such group, I rent a room at a house in `C Street.' I do not belong to any such group. I don't know what you're talking about, [The] Family and all this other stuff."

But on April 9, 2008, at the 56th National Prayer Breakfast, Stupak told attendees, "I am Bart Stupak, co-chair of the House Prayer Breakfast. In my sixteen years in the house this is the second time that I have had the honor to address you from the dais." Both the National Prayer Breakfast and the House Prayer Breakfast are institutions established over half a century ago by The Family, and speaking spots at the National Prayer Breakfast are reported to be tightly controlled by Family head Doug Coe.  

There needs to be some purges among the 'Blue dog's' and anti-abortion cultists.  Hopefully moveon &/or Daily Kos will put this reich-winger at the top of the House list.

by PlacitasRoy on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 06:38:16 PM EST

The problem with "Stupak's position could hardly be better crafted to create an unresolvable impasse" if I were to suddenly believe that insurance companies are going to pay for benefits they are not getting paid for.

They are experts at denying benefits they were paid for.

by Turfsuper on Sun Nov 08, 2009 at 05:23:58 PM EST

Now perhaps we'll see if the pro-choice side has enough courage to pull their support from the final bill, should the unconscionable anti-abortion amendment somehow survive in the senate version.

by trog69 on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 05:16:58 PM EST

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