Senate Republicans Continue to Lambaste Health Care Bill

Posted December 20, 2009 at 3:11pm

Senate Republicans on Sunday continued their attacks on the Democratic health care reform bill and moved to increase the pressure on moderate Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) in advance of a 1 a.m. Monday cloture vote on the manager’s amendment.With Members of the majority delivering a spirited defense of an $871 billion health care package that is chock full of compromises and deals to keep wayward Democratic Senators, including Nelson, on board, Senate Republican leaders conceded there was little they could do on their own to block passage of the bill.But in an effort to make the upcoming three cloture votes and a vote on final passage as politically difficult as possible for the Democrats, the Republicans blasted Nelson and his Democratic colleagues for elements of the bill that offer special treatment for particular states. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled that the attacks would continue past Christmas and into January, when conference committee negotiations are expected to occur.“You’ve got … substantial difference between the House version of the bill and the Senate version of the bill. I think the American people can be assured that this will not become law before Christmas; that’s good,— McConnell said during a Capitol Hill news conference Sunday afternoon. “There is more time for the public to weigh in, evaluate and learn more.—“This is not over, by any stretch,— McConnell added.Democrats, in a conference call held 30 minutes earlier, defended the bill and said compromises with individual Senators were necessary in order to assemble the 60-vote coalition needed to overcome the GOP filibuster attempt. Democratic Sens. Benjamin Cardin (Md.); Tom Carper (Del.); and Al Franken (Minn.) participated in the call.“This is a good deal for our country,— Cardin said.“You can look at every state and find some parochial interest, whether it be medical devices or whatever it is,— Franken added. “There’s been a lot of stuff addressed like that in one way or another.—McConnell, along with Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), were highly critical of Nelson’s compromise on abortion. The Nebraska Democrat had said he would filibuster health care if it did not explicitly prohibit federal funds from being used to pay for abortions, but he accepted compromise language allowing states to decide whether to offer such insurance policies on their exchanges.However, the Republicans were even more critical of a deal Nelson made to forever exclude Nebraska from paying for the legislation’s proposed Medicaid expansion, as well as a few other items Nelson was able to have inserted into the bill. The Republicans also criticized deals secured by other Democrats but focused their outrage on Nelson.“This is going to sour on the stomach of the American people,— Coburn said. “This process is not legislation; this process is corruption.—