Diocesan News

Sen. Nelson May be Moderating His Position

LINCOLN (SNR) - After receiving a firestorm of criticism from pro-life groups, losing endorsements from important state political action committees, and watching his approval ratings slide downward, Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) appears to be moderating his stand on national health care reform.

On Thursday, Jan. 15, during a press conference celebrating a new job training program at the Center for People in Need in Lincoln, Senator Nelson said, “I hope to get back” to the restrictive abortion funding language approved in the House bill.

He was referring to the Stupak Amendment, introduced by Congressmen Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA), during House debate on the health care reform bill, which was approved in early November.

Senator Nelson introduced a similar amendment to the Senate in early December, along with his colleagues Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Robert Casey (D-PA), but it was tabled. The Senate bill later passed with a “compromise” on the abortion issue, which effectively allows tax monies to be used to subsidize elective abortions, though Senator Nelson maintains otherwise.

While he is not personally on the committee of senators and representatives who are trying to devise a compromise between the Senate and House bills with input from the White House, Senator Nelson told reporters that he is in daily contact with the negotiators and keeping an eye on how the bill is being shaped.

“I have expressed my concerns about any changes,” he said. “There are some particulars I have problems with… It’s a delicate balance.”
Such statements could once again put Senator Nelson in the pivotal position between the pro-life minority in Congress and his own Democratic party, which is predominantly in favor of abortion “rights.”

Having lost the support of pro-life organizations including Nebraska Right to Life (NRTL), Senator Nelson also stands to receive personal gain if he votes against a bill that does not include the Stupak amendment.

For example, he may receive endorsement by NRTL when he comes up for re-election in 2012.

“If Senator Nelson voted no on a final cloture vote and it meant the demise of the bill; it would probably be a point of discussion for our PAC,” admitted NRTL Director Julie Schmit-Albin. “It ultimately would accomplish what we wanted him to do at the outset: stop the bill unless it contains the correct abortion language.”

Washington insiders expect the final version of the health care reform bill to be presented to congress by the end of the month.

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