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Lincoln Knocks Nelson's Nebraska Health-Care Deal

1:26 PM, Jan 6, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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The razorback senator got prickly today about the special deal Harry Reid gave Ben Nelson in exchange for his vote on health care:

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln said a political deal that benefits Nebraska and may have clinched a lawmaker's support for health care legislation should be removed from the bill.

The Democratic senator from Arkansas on Tuesday said she was disappointed about a provision in the Senate's health care bill that will require the federal government to permanently pay the entire cost of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska, while only paying the costs of expansion in the other 49 states for three years.

Conservative Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson lent his crucial support to the bill only after winning the provision for his constituents.

"The people of Arkansas didn't send me to Washington to be a horse trader," Lincoln told reporters before speaking at a Kiwanis Club luncheon in downtown Little Rock.

Lincoln declined to say she would vote against the bill if Nelson's deal were left in the final version, so it's likely all noise signifying nothing, but the infighting can't hurt. It was inevitable that other moderate, endangered senators would get their backs up aboutNelson's special treatment.