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November 20, 2009

Ben Nelson Announces He'll Vote To Debate Health Care Bill

Disappointing but not in the least bit surprising.

Mr. Nelson (D., Neb.) had withheld his intentions on the test vote, saying he wanted to review the bill before deciding whether to support the procedural motion to allow debate on the bill to begin. But he made clear in recent days he did not consider a vote to allow debate on the bill to be equivalent to supporting the bill itself.

Mr. Nelson reiterated Friday that he had not yet committed to supporting health-care legislation in a final vote.

...Mr. Nelson was one of three centrist Democrats, along with Sens. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) and Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark.) who had not yet announced how they would vote on the procedural motion. Ms. Landrieu and Ms. Lincoln, whose votes would likely be needed for Democrats to reach a 60-vote threshold to advance the bill, still have not announced whether they would support the motion.

Landrieu got her $100 million but it's not clear if that was for just this vote or if it also gets her cloture vote later. Lincoln, as Ace pointed out yesterday, is in real danger for any show of support for this.

Of course, the Maine gals haven't been heard from lately. They are usually good for a surprise or two.

Keep in mind, this vote tomorrow is only the vote to start debate. It's not the cloture vote to end debate and move to final passage. It would be very unusual and unlikely that we'd win at this point in the process.

A defeat here would mean Senators didn't even want to try and 'improve' the bill. Now we all know it's not improvable but these moderates need to be seen as giving the President's top priority a shot.

Also, any 'improvement' is just as likely to cost a vote or two on the back end anyway, so Reid needs to keep a tight leash on this. Given that, they still have to figure out how to deal with Lieberman's vow to vote no on cloture if there's still a public option.

It would be nice to kill it here but it's not the end of the road. Still, there are only so many spots left and we kind of have to win at some point. So, if you live in Louisiana or Arkansas, get calling!

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posted by DrewM. at 02:39 PM

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