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Reid Schedules Saturday Night Vote for Bill Supported by 35% of Voters

6:15 PM, Nov 19, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Senate Republican aides say that Harry Reid has scheduled the first vote on his health-care bill for Saturday night for 8:00 p.m. after 10 hours of floor debate. Ed Morrissey notes that registered voters oppose the House health care bill 51 percent to 35 percent; a poll done by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows registered voters oppose "President Obama's health care plan" 52 percent to 40 percent.

All eyes are on Democratic senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to see if he will vote Saturday night on the motion to proceed. Nelson is threatening to filibuster the final bill over funding of abortion and the "public option," but he's said this about voting on the motion to proceed:

the meaning of the motion to proceed is very simple:

It's a motion to commence debate and an opportunity to make changes.

Let me say it again: it is a motion to start debate on a bill and to try to improve it.

If you don't like the bill, then why would you block your own opportunity to amend it? Why would you stop senators from doing the job they're elected to do-debate, consider amendments, and take action on an issue affecting every American?

If Senator Nelson is really dead-set against things like taxpayer-funding of abortion, it would make sense to vote against the motion on Saturday night. While there's a chance language like the Stupak amendment could get 50 votes in the Senate, it can't get 60 votes. Nelson can always vote against cloture at the end if the bill pays for abortions. But the Senate could get 60 votes for cloture without Nelson if Reid drops the public option and keeps its abortion-funding provisions, thereby potentially snagging the vote of Olympia Snowe. (Of course, that would also require self-proclaimed pro-lifer Bob Casey to sell out, and voting for abortion-funding could end the careers of senators like Kent Conrad, Harry Reid, and other Democrats.)

Right now Nelson has a stronger hand to play: either his colleagues promise to vote for Stupak language or he doesn't vote for the motion to proceed.