Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) broke sharply with his home-state colleague Sen. Ben Nelson (D) Saturday over the Democratic health care reform bill, explicitly rejecting special provisions for his state and arguing that the bill will lead to federally funded abortion.
Johanns refused to directly criticize Nelson. But during a conference call with reporters, Johanns took direct aim at language Nelson secured from Democratic leaders in return for his pledge to back the bill. He called the language special deals and said despite the benefits that may come to his state they should not have been included in the reform package.
This was wrong when it was a special carve-out for Nevada, this was wrong when it was a special carve-out for Louisiana, and it is equally wrong when a special carve-out is made for my own state of Nebraska. It is wrong and I cannot support it, Johanns said.
Johanns also argued that a deal on abortion language brokered by Nelson would not prevent federal dollars from being used for the procedure, charging it would set the country on the course of providing federally funded abortions.
Nebraskans dollars are going to fund for abortions across the country, Johanns charged, adding that I dont know how any pro-life senator could vote number one for cloture on this bill and secondly for the bill.
Nelson struck a last-minute deal with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the health care language and said he would support the final product. He was viewed as the last holdout for Reid, who needs 60 votes to get the measure through his chamber.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.