Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘I’m Not Voting for the Bill’ and What About Sen Nelson?

December 17, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) efforts to lock in the 60 votes needed for a cloture motion on Thursday, to allow the health care reform bill to come to the floor for debate and a vote, hit a new snag last night. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appeared on the Fox Business Channel last night saying he could not vote for the current bill. After the public option and Medicare buy-in were removed from the bill amid filibuster threats from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sanders is concerned there are no longer cost control measures in the bill.

Appearing on the Cavuto show, Sanders said that he was struggling with his decision:

“I’m struggling with this. As of this point, I’m not voting for the bill. … I’m going to do my best to make this bill a better bill, a bill that I can vote for, but I’ve indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point. And here is the reason. When the public option was withdrawn, because of Lieberman’s action, what I worry about is how do you control escalating health care costs?”

It’s not clear whether Sanders is talking about his vote on the procedual motion of cloture or his vote for the actual bill. But Steve Benen of Washington Monthly’s political animal believes Sanders would not hold up the cloture motion, which would allow a Republican filibuster

Yesterday Sanders was prevented from introducing an historic single-payer health care amendment in the Senate, after Sen. Coburn (R-OK) used a delaying tactic, forcing the clerk to read all 767-pages of the bill. Sanders withdrew his bill after a two hour reading, to prevent a delay in the passage of the Department of Defense appropriations bill and the debate on the health care reform bill.

Sanders made his case for a Medicare for all system in his impassioned speech to withdraw his bill, and he blasted the Republicans for their obstructionism:

“The best the Republicans can do is try to bring the United States government to a halt by forcing a reading of a 700 page amendment! That is an outrage! … It is wrong to bring the United States government to a halt,” said Sanders.

Coburn has threatened more delaying tactics, as the health care bill nears a vote.

Sen. Harry Reid plans to hold a cloture vote on Thursday for the health care reform bill. At this writing, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NB) is still not committing his vote to the cloture motion. He is waiting for pro-life groups in his home state to weigh-in on the new restrictive language banning indirect abortion subsidies, before he would vote for cloture.

Nelson is the most conservative member in the Senate’s Democratic caucus. Today’s cloture vote should be a nail-biter. Stay tuned.


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