Key Pro-Life Democrat Backs Debate, But Not Pro-Abortion Senate Health Care Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Key Pro-Life Democrat Backs Debate, But Not Pro-Abortion Senate Health Care Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 20
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A key pro-life Democrat, who is seen by political observers as one of the Democrats who would help defeat the pro-abortion Senate health care bill, says he will vote tomorrow for the Motion to Proceed — allowing the Senate to debate the bill that contains massive abortion funding.

However, Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat, says not to interpret his vote to begin debate as him supporting the bill itself.

That is especially the case if an amendment Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch plans to offer to yank the abortion funding is not added to the bill.

"Throughout my Senate career I have consistently rejected efforts to obstruct," he said in a statement.

"That’s what the vote on the motion to proceed is all about. It is not for or against the new Senate health care bill released Wednesday. It is only to begin debate and an opportunity to make improvements. If you don’t like a bill why block your own opportunity to amend it?" he added.

"This weekend, I will vote for the motion to proceed to bring that debate onto the Senate floor. The Senate should start trying to fix a health care system that costs too much and delivers too little for Nebraskans," Nelson continued.

Nelson also said he worried that voting to oppose the Motion to Proceed would prompt Reid to use the controversial reconciliation process that allows him to push a bill under a 50-vote process without any amendments to stop abortion funding.

The pro-life Democrat also promised to oppose the bill and oppose efforts to stop the filibuster if the abortion funding remains.

“In my first reading, I support parts of the bill and oppose others I will work to fix. If that’s not possible, I will oppose the second cloture motion — needing 60 votes — to end debate and oppose the final bill," he said.

Nelson was one of three questions marks on whether Senate Leader Harry Reid would get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and approve the Motion to Proceed. Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas are two others who may vote no.

Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Senate Democrat, said today that he heard from Lincoln how she will vote but neither he nor Lincoln will disclose whether she will support the motion.

"Sen. Lincoln has not yet signaled her intention as to how she will vote on tomorrow’s cloture motion," he said.

"We are not assuming a thing. We are working hard to bring all Democrats together for the 60 votes necessary to proceed to this historic debate," he said, according to Fox News. "I’m hoping that we can muster our ranks."

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