The conservative constituents of red-state Democratic senators should see through what Ben Nelson is doing. Many Democrats in difficult states will vote to let the bill go forward and then switch on the second cloture vote or vote no on the Senate floor after cloture is invoked. But voting for the motion to proceed now makes it more likely that the bill will pass and much more difficult for it to be significantly reshaped.
In fact, an analysis by the Congressional Research Service performed at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) office found that in 40 of 41 cases between the 106th and 110th Congress where there was a successful motion to proceed and a final Senate vote on a bill, the bill in question passed. That 97.6 percent figure doesn’t apply to bills that ended up getting pulled before the final vote, meaning that there would still be a chance to defeat the bill. But Democrats who profess to be concerned about the Senate bill — because of abortion or any other reason — should not vote for the motion to proceed.