Brief of the Week, November 17, 2009

SHADEGG SITS OUT STUPAK AMENDMENT: The lone House member to vote “present” last week on the amendment to the health care bill barring federal funds for abortion was Arizona Republican John Shadegg. The amendment, co-sponsored by Representatives Bart Stupak (D.-Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R.-Pa.) and strongly backed by the National Right to Life Committee, passed by a vote of 240-194. As a result, enough pro-life Democrats felt comfortable to vote for the full health care measure, which narrowly passed the House 220-215. So why did Shadegg, a self-described “100% pro-life vote,” not support Stupak-Pitts? “In the end, the Stupak Amendment gave political cover to Democrats who voted for Nancy Pelosi for speaker,” Shadegg told reporters on the day after the vote. “She is anti-freedom and rabidly pro-abortion. She is no friend of life and outsmarted opponents of socialized medicine.” The Arizonan noted that before the vote, Pelosi “promised pro-abortion Democrats she would strip the Stupak language. Obama will help her. She will strip the Stupak amendment in the conference with the Senate and pass the final bill with the votes of Democrats who claim to be pro-life.” In explaining that a “present” vote means neither “aye” nor “nay,” Shadegg described his vote as a “protest vote” and noted that had Republicans “voted ‘present’ as a group, since we are the party of life, we would have defined  ‘present’ as the pro-life vote.” Doing so would have denied pro-life Democrats cover and in all likelihood denied Pelosi the five-vote advantage with which the health care bill was passed, he insisted. Shadegg took after his own party’s leadership, saying that “at a minimum, Republicans should have met and discussed their strategy. They didn’t! Instead, they helped Nancy Pelosi pass her bill without so much as a conversation.”