Sen. Ben Nelson has said he will filibuster the Senate health care bill unless stronger anti-abortion language is added. Nelson calls his demand for such langauge “non-negotiable.” He is circulating an amendment that closely mirrors the Stupak amendment which the House approved.
It will be very difficult for Harry Reid to round up 60 votes without Ben Nelson. Joe Lieberman does not seem to be prepared to vote “yes” and Blanche Lincoln will be hard-pressed to do so unless she is prepared to kiss her Senate seat good-bye.
For every Democrat he loses, Reid must win a Republican. The two Maine Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, appear to be his only prospects.
If anti-abortion language were added, Reid would face the prospect of losing other Democrats. In fact, Barbara Boxer has said that Stupak language would not pass the Senate.
Nelson isn’t just concerned about the absence of anti-abortion language. Appearing on Fox News a few days ago, he said there were several other changes that must be made before he can support the Senate bill, including the elimination or dramatic modification of the public option.
Perhaps Nelson was bluffing with respect to some of his objections, but it doesn’t look like he’s bluffing about the abortion issue.
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