NEBRASKA CIVIL CONFLICT - AT 10:49 A.M. ET: Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb) is catching it back home for his cave-in on health care. True, he got some dollars for Nebraska, but there still are some people with pride left. From the Lincoln, Nebraska, JournalStar:
Sen. Ben Nelson's dramatic decision Saturday to vote for enactment of historic health care reform ignited a predictable firestorm.
Nelson negotiated a number of concessions that will strengthen health care services in rural Nebraska and lift an expanded Medicaid funding burden from the state.
But the anti-abortion funding language in the agreement leading to his support triggered some political dynamite.
In a stunning choice of words, Republican Sen. Mike Johanns described the abortion compromise negotiated by his Nebraska colleague as "reprehensible."
"If you are pro-life," Johanns said, "you cannot vote to end debate on this bill."
During a telephone interview moments later, Nelson said he believed it's "not appropriate for someone to cast any aspersions on someone else's principles and whether they're pro-life enough."
Well, Ben, that's exactly what your Senate colleague from Nebraska did. And he wouldn't have done it without knowing what people back home were thinking.
National Right to Life rejected the compromise and warned it will consider any votes supporting the bill as "votes in favor of legislation to allow the federal government to subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand."
The organization said the abortion language is "light years removed" from stricter anti-abortion funding legislation approved by the House.
Silvio Canto Jr., on whose radio show I appear frequently, has an excellent wrapup of the full Nelson betrayal here. Silvio notes that, for Nelson, this was a "profile in courage" moment. Not much courage.
Nelson, a Democratic senator from a Republican state, is a major Republican target in next year's midterms. The target just got bigger.
December 20, 2009