NELSON PREPARED TO JOIN GOP FILIBUSTER…. Going into the week, Senate Democrats were still hoping to get support for health care reform from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). After making some very painful concessions, Lieberman seemed happy.
Nelson, meanwhile, isn’t willing to compromise, and is prepared to kill the entire year-long effort.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson — the moderate Democrat whose opposition is holding up the Senate’s health care bill — says new language on abortion doesn’t satisfy his concerns.
Nelson told KLIN radio in Lincoln, Nebraska, Thursday that an attempt at compromise doesn’t get to the fundamental issue of barring federal funding for abortions.
Nelson says without further changes the compromise isn’t sufficient.
Remember, literally one month ago today, CNN reported that Nelson was satisfied with the compromise language from the Senate Finance Committee. Now he’s decided the Finance Committee compromise not only isn’t good enough, but he’s also prepared to kill health care reform over it.
What’s more, let’s also not forget that while Nelson isn’t making any real effort to seek common ground, he’s also rejecting compromises of compromises — Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), another pro-life Dem, offered Nelson a new proposal with additional restrictions on federal financing of abortion. As of today, Nelson said the compromise on a compromise still isn’t good enough, and he won’t even let the Senate vote on the bill because of it.
And while we’re at it, let’s also not forget that just a few weeks ago, Nelson said he doesn’t like the existing restrictions on abortion funding, but added, “If there’s no public option, perhaps some of the [abortion] problem goes away.” It suggested this wasn’t the issue he was prepared to kill health care reform over. And now it is.
Indeed, as of today, Nelson sounded like he’s giving up altogether. He said Democratic offers are “not enough,” and suggested it might be time to go “back to the drawing board in some areas.”
The hope was that Nelson would, when push came to shove, not want to be the one responsible for killing health care. But as the deadline approaches, the conservative Democrat no longer seems to care, putting this once-in-a-generation opportunity in peril.
Where does that leave us? Either a) someone can convince Nelson to change his mind; b) someone can convince Nelson to oppose the bill but let the Senate vote on it; or c) Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) breaks ranks.
If the Christmas deadline is going to be reached, one of these three will have to happen over the next 24 hours. If the bill is going to survive at all, one of these three will have to happen eventually or the entire initiative fails.