Friday, December 04, 2009

Voting Begins On Healthcare Reform Amendments-- Ben Nelson's Anti-Choice Amendment Comes Next Week


Wouldn't a straight up trade work better for everyone involved?

After the Republican Party strategy for footdragging and obstructionism was uncovered Wednesday, the Senate started voting on healthcare reform amendments Thursday. The mostly party-line votes passed Barbara Mikulski's amendment to clarify provisions relating to first dollar coverage for preventive services for women (61-39) with Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe voting with the Democrats and-- par for the course, Ben Nelson voting with his pals on the other side of the aisle. Contrarian as usual, Feingold also voted against Mikulski's amendment, claiming it costs too much.

All changes to the bill require 60 votes, something that was agreed to by unanimous consent, so it isn't likely any Republican measures meant to obstruct or damage the bill will get anywhere-- even with Nelson firmly on their team. Lisa Murkowski's gratuitous silliness failed 41-59, only Nelson joining the bad guys.

Next up was Michael Bennet (D-CO) with an amendment "to protect and improve guaranteed Medicare benefits" and not even Republicans who normally do whatever they can to undermine and destroy Medicare dared voted against it. It passed with 100 votes! Let's take a little break for people with short memories:

OK, back to work! Before retiring for the evening, the senators rejected an offering by their body's biggest hypocrite, John McCain, 42-58, a duplicitously-worded proposal that would have stopped the bill dead in its tracks. Again Ben Nelson voted with the GOP, although this time Jim Webb (D-VA) did as well. In the next few days-- probably on Tuesday-- Nelson is expected to offer a Stupak-like anti-choice poison pill, which most Republicans-- presumably minus Snowe and Collins-- are eager to support. It has virtually no chance of passing.
Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) said he expected that all but a few Republicans would support the Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-Neb) amendment, which would restrict access to abortions for women who receive federal subsidies.

But the amendment is likely to be subject to the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, and Kyl does not expect 20 votes on the other side to back the controversial change... The defeat of his amendment would be politically significant because Nelson has pledged to vote with Republicans to filibuster the health bill if it did not include the Stupak language.
“I’ve said at the end of the day if it doesn’t have Stupak language on abortion in it I won’t vote to move it off the floor,” Nelson told reporters.

In other words, Nelson is ready to filibuster the entire bill with the GOP if he can't use it to weaken women's right to choice.

UPDATE: Friday Amendments

The Senate approved two Democratic amendments and rejected two obstructionist GOP amendments. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) offered one that protects Social Security and even the worst Republican enemies of Social Security, like DeMint, Burr and Coburn were too cowardly to vote against it. It passed 98-0. That was followed by another duplicitously worded amendment by Thune (R-SD) to cut programs to working families, which every Republican voted for, along with Lieberman and a batch of conservative DLC types: Max Baucus (MT), Evan Bayh (IN), Tom Carper (DE), Kent Conrad (ND), Mary Landrieu (LA), Blanche Lincoln (AR), Claire McCaskill (MO), Ben Nelson (NE), Mark Udall (CO), Mark Warner (VA) and Jim Webb (VA). It failed.

Only one sociopath, Tom Coburn (R-OK) voted against Debbie Stabenow's amendment to ensure that there is no reduction or elimination of any benefits guaranteed by law to participants in Medicare Advantage plans, thus depriving the GOP of one of its favorite fear and smear tactics in the healthcare debate. It passed 97-1. Oklahomans admire that kind of "independence" on behalf of the hard pressed multimillionaire Insurance Industry CEOs who Coburn always stands up for.

The day ended with Orrin Hatch (R-UT) trying to kill healthcare reform outright with another pro forma motion to recommit. It failed 41-57, all the Republicans voting together-- joined in this case by Ben Nelson (of course) and, more suprisingly and disturbingly, Jim Webb.

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At 8:09 AM, Blogger Silverado said...

What's up with Jim Webb?


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