The path to 60 just got a lot more difficult:
In an interview Thursday with a Nebraska radio station, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said new compromise language on abortion funding is unacceptable.
“As it is right now, without further modifications, it isn’t sufficient,” Nelson told KLIN radio in Lincoln, NE.
This could be a significant blow to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s effort to line up 60 votes in the coming days for the health care bill. Nelson has said he would filibuster the bill unless the abortion language mirrored what was included in the House bill.
Even if abortion is addressed to his satisfaction, “that is not enough” for Nelson commit to voting for the bill, he said.
How bad will this get? Barack Obama hasn’t even addressed the issue of abortion with Nelson directly. That’s a pretty interesting picture of disinterest coming from the Oval Office on what is supposed to be Obama’s highest priority on his domestic agenda.
Harry Reid will have to go back to the drawing board on abortion funding, but that may not be possible. His progressive wing is already in near revolt over having to vote for a bill with no government-run plan in it. They wanted a precursor to a single-payer system; in fact, that was the entire point of the health-care reform push. Now they’re going to be asked to kill funding for abortion as well, having worked for months to build a path around the Hyde Amendment. There is no way that will get through to cloture, and no way it will pass in the House even if it did.
Nelson’s driving a stake through the heart of ObamaCare. Looks like Barack Obama has his pretext for skipping Copenhagen.
Update: Here’s the audio and a transcript:
HOST: “You’ve been very clear that you do not like the idea of federal funding going towards abortions. You provided the amendment that did not pass muster with the Senate. Is that the single issue right now—if that were changed, would that be enough, right now, for you to go along with the bill?”
NELSON: “No. There are other substantive issues…”
HOST: “But if the abortion issue is taken care of to your satisfaction, whether it be some kind of compromise that is to your satisfaction, would that be enough for you to vote for cloture and go forward?”
HOST: “That’s not enough alone?”
NELSON: “That’s not enough.”
NELSON: “A deadline and a timeline that’s out there that is not achievable isn’t helpful. I can’t tell you that they couldn’t come up with something that would be satisfactory on abortion between now and [Christmas], and solve all the other issues that I’ve raised to them. But I don’t see how.”
HOST: “Senator, we gotta let you go, but I want you to bottom line this for our listeners. As of right now, the way things stand right now, you would not vote cloture on this bill.”
NELSON: “That’s correct. On cloture on the motion to end debate. I voted for cloture on the motion to begin debate and I said at the time, and I’m following through on that, if … it’s not at the point where I think it needs to be with the improvements that I’m pushing, and they’ve made a lot of them, then I will not vote for cloture on the motion to end debate.”