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Preparing for Democratic 'no' votes in the Senate

Updated 6:00 p.m.
By Shailagh Murray
With the Senate preparing to launch a final round of health-care deliberations on Tuesday, Democratic leaders are assessing possible defections when a bill modifying the legislation now headed to President Obama reaches the floor this week.

The so-called "fixes" bill includes a series of changes to the massive package approved by the House late Sunday night. Obama is expected to sign the underlying legislation, aimed at creating near-universal health coverage, at a White House ceremony late Tuesday morning.

Because the fixes bill is protected by special budget reconciliation rules, it can't be filibustered. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is confident he has secured at least the 50 votes needed to pass it. The main challenge will be keeping the fixes bill intact, as Republicans plan to raise parliamentary objections to many of its provisions.

But there will be some Democratic "no" votes, and they will reveal something about each of the senators who cast them.

One confirmed Democratic defector is Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who announced Sunday she would oppose the fixes bill because it includes an unrelated overhaul of the student loan industry and relies on reconciliation, a process that limits debate, although it has been widely used by both parties.

Lincoln is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election in November, and her Senate colleagues had suspected she would find a reason to vote against the fixes. Like all Senate Democrats, she did vote for the underlying bill that is on the verge of becoming law.

Another is Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who announced his opposition late Monday. The conservative Democrat was Reid's final convert when the Senate bill squeaked through in December, but Nelson strongly opposes the student loan measure because it would harm a private lender based in his state. He also objects to a new Medicare tax on unearned income.

And yet Nelson also was eager to wipe out the pot of extra Medicaid funding for Nebraska included in the Senate bill to lure his vote, that has become known as the "Cornhusker Kickback." The fixes bill would eliminate the perk, and a "yes" would have allowed Nelson to claim that he helped to keep it off the books.

Other Democrats whose support is questionable include Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, who opposes the underlying bill's deep cuts to the Medicare Advantage program. And both Democrats who represent Virginia, Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb, are counted as undecideds on the fixes. One reason is the student loan provision, as the student loan giant Sallie Mae is headquartered in Reston, Va.

But Democratic aides said Warner and Webb also are taking into account their state's conservative leanings and the lukewarm support for health-care reform in most polls.

By Shailagh Murray  |  March 22, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Posted by: rritkonlyyou | March 22, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Don't waffle now.

Webb/Warner/Connolly HAVE TO GO!!!

Posted by: JustSomeThoughts | March 22, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I can see the VA Senators opposing the bill because Sallie Mae is based in their state...I can (kind of) see Nelson's (NE) opposition for the same reason (although opponents will spin it as him bailing due to the cornhusker thingy)..I see Nelson (FL) opposition once the Medicare carve out to Floridians was squashed...I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT BLANCHE LINCOLN'S LOGIC HERE IS..The reason she's losing is because she has no convictions. She's for reconciliation (when GOP uses it) until she's against it (when her own party is in control).

Posted by: TruthHurts2 | March 22, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Even if they vote "No", they should all be kicked out. Congress has a 9% approval rate, or something like that, and we are worried about who will be staying? If more than 9% of them stay, then we are not doing our proper job as voters.

Posted by: gjconely | March 22, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

So,let me be clear here again,as all of the
Communist Obamacrats not just looney toons
Blamche Lincoln will face political death and total extinction after Election 2010 and Election 2012 when the Republicans are
joined by millions of Independents like myself delivery the proverbial death by 10,000 knife cuts and throw every stinking damn Obamacrat Communist Democrat out of our US Congress and Impeach Barack Obama and ship his stinking butt back to Kenya!
Take Back Congress and The White House Now!
Posted by: KarenKay2009
__________________________________________
Another thoughtful teabagger comment. You can tell this poster is a real teabagger 'cause he or she also reveals him or herself to be a "birther". Solid credentials for which any wingnut could be proud! Nutters, doff your tinfoil hats to KarenKay2009!

Posted by: Observer001 | March 22, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

So,let me be clear here again,as all of the
Communist Obamacrats not just looney toons
Blamche Lincoln will face political death and total extinction after Election 2010 and Election 2012 when the Republicans are
joined by millions of Independents like myself delivery the proverbial death by 10,000 knife cuts and throw every stinking damn Obamacrat Communist Democrat out of our US Congress and Impeach Barack Obama and ship his stinking butt back to Kenya!
Take Back Congress and The White House Now!

Posted by: KarenKay2009 | March 22, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Get outta here, that ridiculous, nonsensical, stumblebum, senator Licoln is at it again, pronouncing rubbish about reconciliation and mumbling about student loans. Lincoln's big push is to eliminate the so-called death tax, helping those people who have an estate of ten million or greater, do I hear Wal-Mart influence. Lincoln is a poster of why not to donate to the DNC, they may give her some of my donations. Go Bill Halter.
I get a headache thinking she represents me in the senate.

Posted by: MikeQ2 | March 22, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

So, Ms. Lincoln is trying to derail reform of a corrupt and scandal ridden student loan system in the name of trying to save a sketchy lender in her home state called the Arkansas Student Loan Authority.

Forget about the $25,000.00 Ms. Lincoln's campaign has taken from Sallie Mae in the past few years. That's probably not important. Right? Money doesn't motivate our esteemed politicians these days.

But the Arkansas Student Loan Authority (ASLA) admitted a few years back that they did, in fact, bilk taxpayers out of subsidy dollars to which they were not entitled and returned some money. Last fall, the United States Justice Department joined with and unsealed a lawsuit against nine lenders for a full accounting and of those nine, the Arkansas Student Loan Authority is included.

http://higheredwatch.newamerica.net/blogposts/2009/a_new_chapter_in_the_95_scandal-19108

So let's do the math. A lending agency that bilked taxpayers for which now Ms. Lincoln is a shill trying to keep a handful of jobs. Financial contributions from the very student loan industry of middlemen that wants Ms. Lincoln to vote against reform. Ms. Lincoln, if you want a local student loan agency, why doesn't your state go ahead and start their own instead of taking your sketchy ASLA and forcing taxpayers to work with an organization that has already bilked them out of millions?

MoveOn.org seems to have it pegged well.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWmDdA0KiqY

Posted by: mike12122 | March 22, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Once they voted for the original bill they might as well stay on board. They helped caused the problem and their voters will not forget!

Posted by: mwhoke | March 22, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

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