Sen. Ben Nelson said that he would vote to allow the Senate health care bill to move to the floor for debate, even though he said yesterday that the abortion language in the bill is not acceptable to him.
His decision leaves Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu as the remaining holdouts.
“Throughout my Senate career I have consistently rejected efforts to obstruct,” Nelson said in a statement. “That’s what the vote on the motion to proceed is all about.”
“It is not for or against the new Senate health care bill released Wednesday.
“It is only to begin debate and an opportunity to make improvements. If you don’t like a bill why block your own opportunity to amend it?
“As we have seen before, obstructionists are inviting a move toward reconciliation by opposing this first procedural vote. Let’s be clear. That route shrinks debate and amendments, eliminates bipartisanship and needs only 50 votes to pass a bill.
“In the end, far more Washington-run health care policies win, but Nebraskans lose.
“In my first reading, I support parts of the bill and oppose others I will work to fix. If that’s not possible, I will oppose the second cloture motion—needing 60 votes—to end debate, and oppose the final bill.
“But I won’t slam the doors of the Senate in the face of Nebraskans now. They want the health care system fixed. The Senate owes them a full and open debate to try to do so.”
The problem, as his co-Senator from Nebraska Mike Johanns noted yesterday, is that once the bill gets to the floor, there will need to be 60 votes to change the abortion language. And there simply aren’t that many pro-life votes in the Senate. So this really was a key test of his professed anti-abortion views.
Jim Antle wrote about the moment of truth facing pro-life Democrats on our main site.
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