Nelson: A Vote to Begin Debate Not an Endorsement on Health Bill

Posted November 18, 2009 at 3:09pm

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) on Wednesday took aim at critics who have attempted to sway his vote on whether to support Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) effort to begin debate on a health care reform measure this week.In a statement that appeared to indicate he is leaning toward voting with Reid, Nelson said those who claim a vote for an arcane and routine procedural motion is akin to endorsing the bill are misleading people. Nelson, a moderate who insisted he is still undecided, said a vote to kill the GOP filibuster of the motion to proceed is just a vote to start debate, not a vote to pass the bill. Reid is on the cusp of unveiling his health care package; he is hoping to have the vote on the motion to proceed on the measure as early as Friday or Saturday.“As I’ve said many times before, I won’t decide how I’ll vote on the motion to proceed until I know what I’m voting on,— Nelson said in the statement. “But I would like to explain what that vote means because there’s been a lot of commentary in the media, by special interest groups and in Congress offering definitions. Some who define it as a vote in favor of the Reid bill are misinformed, or are intentionally trying to mislead people. … And some who define it as the last chance to stop bad legislation have a political agenda: They want to kill any health care bill Congress considers this year for leverage in next year’s Congressional elections.—Nelson added, “In reality, the meaning of the motion to proceed is very simple: It’s a motion to commence debate and an opportunity to make changes. … If you don’t like the bill, then why would you block your own opportunity to amend it? Why would you stop Senators from doing the job they’re elected to do — debate, consider amendments and take action on an issue affecting every American? But before I say yes or no on that motion to proceed, I believe Nebraskans want me to have adequate time to read the bill and to study its costs. That’s just common sense.—Reid plans to brief the entire Senate Democratic Conference on his bill at 5 p.m. Wednesday.