11th-Hour Watch: All Eyes on Stupak

As my colleague Sarah Kliff noted yesterday, much of the last-minute scrambling before tonight's health-care vote is centered around the office of Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak and his band of anti-abortion rights Democrats. Stupak started with a dozen lawmakers on his side, but has since lost four to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Last night the remaining eight were summoned to the White House for discussions with administration lawyers about language to bring Stupak's bloc into the fold to reach the 216-vote threshold.

There aren't many legislative ways to get around Stupak's opposition to the bill, especially not reconciliation in the Senate. But Stupak's main request of the president was for him to stipulate that federal funds wouldn't be used for abortions through executive order, which would supplement the full bill. The White House says no deal was reached last night, but a source close to Stupak tells me the congressman is "on the verge" of an agreement this afternoon.

That would certainly give Pelosi the votes she needs. While CNN reported that Democrats had the requisite 216 votes, NBC News has claimed that House leaders were in fact two votes short. The disparity means only one thing: no one knows the firm tally yet, perhaps not even Pelosi. An 11th-hour Stupak deal would change that.