Sen. Nelson ‘Not 100 Percent Certain’ if He’ll Double-Cross Dems

January 12, 2010

(ChattahBox)—-Apparently, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb) hasn’t made up his mind yet on whether he will vote yes on final passage of the reconciled health care reform bill. Despite holding the Senate and Americans hostage for weeks, ensuring that he extracted concessions, before voting yes, Nelson now raises the specter of going back on his agreement with his own party. The conservative lawmaker must have sniffed out another deal to be made. During a recent interview with a local newspaper, Nelson said he still wasn’t sure if he could vote yes on the final bill.

After receiving a concession to have the federal government pay the entire cost of Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion, Nelson received not only criticism from other lawmakers, but also from his own constituents who were embarrassed by Nelson’s heavy-handedness.

Nelson now says that the Medicaid clause was inserted against his will basically. “I’m not seeking a pot of money. I’m just trying to see that all states are treated the same,” claims Nelson.

According to the account in the Chadron News:

“During negotiations, Nelson said, he sought an opt-out clause for states to enact when the federal government’s plan for expanded Medicaid kicks in in 2017. The CBO didn’t complete a fiscal analysis on the opt-out clause in time for the vote so someone chose to put in a $100 million line item to Nebraska instead. Nelson said the line item was basically a placeholder for the opt-out clause so it could be dealt with in conference, adding that the actual cost of the Medicaid expansion in Nebraska will be around $45 million.”

Whatever the case, after taking heat for the Nebraska Medicaid deal, he started to back away from it, claiming that he wanted the federal government to reimburse every state for Medicaid expansion.

Although admitting that he wasn’t about to give away his 60th crucial vote for free, he denied being bribed for it with the payment of the costs of Medicaid expansion. “I’m not giving away that 60th vote. I’ve not been bribed for it.”

He reiterated that he will not vote for any bill that includes a public option and does not include strict language to prevent federal subsidies paying for abortion coverage. But Nelson also seems to be giving himself additional wiggle room, as the final negotiations between the two chambers of Congress take place.

When asked if he was certain that he would vote for the bill, Nelson responded:

“I hope so, but I’m not 100 percent certain of it.”

h/t The Political Animal


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