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The derivatives chapter in the Senate's financial reform bill is stronger than the House's version in just about every way imaginable. Not surprisingly, convincing finical reform conference committee members to choose the House derivatives language over the Senate language has been big-bank lobbyists' top priority in the past few weeks.

The vote on derivatives will take place tomorrow, and despite a lot of centrists recently adopting the banks' position, a trio of relatively moderate House Dems -- Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D, CT-3] (pictured), Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] and Rep. Jackie Speier [D, CA-12] -- are pushing back hard. They circulated a letter today urging the Senate derivatives language to be kept in tact and implying that any actions by the conference committee to weaken the language could cost Democratic votes from the left. They are asking for Democratic House colleagues to sign on.

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The Stupak Deal

March 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1], the pro-life Democrat who has elevated himself to the level of health care reform gatekeeper by withholding his vote and those of his acolytes over concerns with the bill's abortion language, has struck a deal with the Democrats and will now vote "yes." Stupak's vote basically assures that the bill will pass today.

The deal is that President Obama has promised to issue an executive order stating that the law's current restriction on federal funds being used for elective abortions will be upheld as the health care bill is implemented. The full executive order that Obama will issue can be read at TPM.

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Let the endgames begin! The pieces of the process puzzle for finishing health care reform are falling into place. The votes are being whipped. And, after 14 months of national obsession with health care reform, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' statement on Sunday that in one week the health care bill will be "the law of the land," actually seems plausible.

Here's the latest on what to expect this week -- both politically and procedurally -- and when to expect it.

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Congress Links

March 9, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Here are a few articles and blog posts from today that you probably should check out:

  • Our colleague Paul Blumenthal at the Sunlight Foundation explains how energy industry donations tie into Sen. Blanche Lincoln's [D, AR] opposition to Environmental Protection Agency regulations of greenhouse gases. (The Sunlight Foundation)
  • Disgraced and outgoing Rep. Eric Massa [D, NY-29] was embraced by some conservatives for opposing President Obama's health care reform bill. The Weekly Standard warns that this will have consequences when the full details of Massa's actions comes to light. (The Weekly Standard)

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The Stupak 12

March 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] is threatening to keep the House from passing the Senate health care bill (H.R. 3590) and potentially sink the whole health care reform process unless its language regarding abortion is amended to match the language he added to the House health care bill. The Senate bill already blocks federal funding from going towards abortion services, but Stupak wants it to prevent anyone buying insurance through the new Exchanges from purchasing a plan that covers elective abortions, even if they are buying the insurance plan entirely with their own money.

Stupak says that he has 11 Democrats who will vote "no" with him on the Senate bill if the abortion language isn't changed. That's enough to sink the bill. The names of the "Stupak 12" haven't been released, but Brian Beutler of TPM has whittled down various roll call and whip lists to produce a list that seems like it could be pretty accurate:

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In what were thought to be the waning days of the health care reform process, Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] came out of left field and introduced the issue of abortion to the debate - nearly sinking everything. Now that health care is again inching towards a finish line, Stupak has returned.

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Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] went on Good Morning America yesterday to say that he has the votes and is ready to sink the Senate health care bill (and the whole health care reform process in Congress) if it is not changed to match the language he added to the health care bill in the House. But Stupak doesn't have his facts straight on how the Senate bill's prohibition on federal funds for abortions actually works.

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