Senate Democratic Whip: ‘We Don’t Believe that the Stupak Language, if Offered at this Moment, is Likely to Pass’

By Karen Schuberg | December 4, 2009 | 5:28 PM EST

Sen. Ben. Nelson, D-Neb., on Capitol Hill on Nov. 3, 2009. "I have to ask, 'Senator, whose side are you on?'" a restaurant owner from Ralston, Neb., says in a political ad aimed at Nelson. Liberals are pressing him to support the Democrats’ health care bill. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

( – Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the number-two Democrat in the Senate, said Friday he does not think that an amendment to the health-care reform bill barring federal funds from going to insurance plans that cover abortion would pass in the Senate at this point.
“We don’t believe that the Stupak language, if offered at this moment, is likely to pass,” Durbin told reporters last Friday during a conference call.
“And so we’re trying to find if there’s an alternative provision that is somewhat different than the current bill but doesn’t quite reach the Stupak level that would satisfy the needs of Sen. (Ben) Nelson and our pro-life senators. We’re working on that now,” Durbin told reporters during a conference call on Dec. 4 on health care reform.
“Stupak” is a reference to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who succeeded last month in getting a pro-life amendment attached to the House-passed version of the bill. The Stupak language bars all federal tax dollars from paying for any part of an insurance plan that covers elective abortions.
Durbin, when asked by a reporter what compromise was being considered regarding abortion funding in the health care bill, said it was still being worked out.
“I would say that discussions are underway.  We know that Sen. Nelson feels very strongly about this. I can’t predict a vote. We have indication of some senators on the Democratic side who will join him,” the Democratic whip said. 
"Are you foreseeing an outcome where you lose Sen. Nelson on the underlying bill over the abortion issue?" a reporter asked Durbin. 
"No," said Durbin. "At the end of the day, we need Sen. Nelson’s vote.  We still don’t have a promise of a vote from the Republican side, and so we would need his vote to make our 60."