Nelson Changes His Story on Stupak
Via Daniel Foster, Nebraska's Democratic senator Ben Nelson now claims that his big plan all along was to filibuster for the Stupak language if it wasn't included in the conference report. But that's not what Nelson was saying after he provided the 60th vote to pass cloture. Here's Nelson's interview with LifeSiteNews:
LSN: OK, so you were planning on coming back . . .
NELSON: Absolutely. That is what I was just trying to tell the gentleman who was arguing about the 60th vote.
LSN: What made you think that it had a shot, after conference?
NELSON: Because they needed 60 votes again.
LSN: Right, but before, you voted for it even without it —
NELSON: To get it there. . . . But, once it went to conference, as part of the conference, there was still another 60 vote threshold, and that is when I would have insisted and that is what Christy was talking about when I mentioned this on the phone – how we would approach this in conference to say, for my last 60th vote, it has to have Nelson/Hatch/Casey.
LSN: Why didn’t you stop it right then and there and say, “No Nelson/Hatch — nothing.”
NELSON: Because, at that point and time, the leverage wasn’t as strong — you have to play it [ . . . ]
LSN: So, if we got to conference and it was just the Nelson not the Nelson/Hatch/Casey — you would say ‘yes’ because you think it was good enough.
NELSON: I could have but I was going to say — and this was all the plan — that I would insist that it be Nelson/Hatch/Casey.
After the 1:00 a.m. vote on December 21, Nelson adamantly argued that his "compromise" amendment prevented taxpayer funding of abortion. "There's no question about whether any of the money goes to fund abortion because it does not," Nelson told reporters in the hallway off the Senate floor. So if his amendment was sufficient, why would he hold out for Stupak in the conference report? According to my transcript, Nelson also said on December 21 that he would like the Stupak language in the final bill, but its absence wouldn't have prevented him from voting for final passage. "If it holds on the House side," Nelson said, "I’d be very happy to have the Stupak language."
It's understandable that after getting booed out of a pizza parlor in Nebraska and getting trounced by 31 points in a poll, Nelson would want to change his mind. He has every right to try to save his career, but he isn't entitled to his own set of facts.
Update: In his December 20 CNN interview, Nelson said the difference between his amendment and the Stupak amendment was nothing more than a "staple":
KING: That from Senator Graham. In your home state, Julie Schmit-Albin, the executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, says, "If this is so good for pro-life, why would Senator Boxer and Senator Schumer agree to this?" Senator Boxer and Senator Schumer, of course, liberal Democrats. Did you let down the pro-life movement?
NELSON: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, what they haven't said is that we tried to pass the Stupak language earlier in the Congress last week, and it was called the Nelson-Hatch-Casey bill. It didn't get enough votes. So the choice was do nothing or try to do something in case Stupak is not -- that language doesn't hold in the conference report.
So what we were trying to do is find a way to solve the issue.
I think the language does do it. I disagree with them. I think it's unfortunate they've taken the approach they have, because it's about -- the argument is about a staple. It's about a staple. It's about whether or not you have a rider that you staple to a policy. The rider covers abortion. Or whether you have it -- and for that, there's no separate check required. It would be just -- the requirement would be that the check cover both abortion and the person's portion of the premium.
Would Nelson care to say why he would have filibustered over a staple?