Critical Condition

Nelson to GOP: Help ‘Avoid Reconciliation’

In a statement, Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) seems to be courting Republicans:

“If Republican colleagues are serious about fixing our health care system and want to avoid using the reconciliation process, then I will go to the negotiating table with them,” Senator Nelson said. “If Republican senators join me at the table, we can use bipartisanship for health reform rather than use reconciliation, which needs only 50 votes to approve legislation.

“All it takes is one Republican to come forward, put partisanship aside, and work on behalf of those that do not have or cannot afford health insurance,” Nelson added. “Working together, we can fight to ensure health reform relies on our private market system, rather than the government to reduce the cost of health care and deliver better care for millions of Americans.

“Reconciliation has never been my preference for moving legislation. Instead, I always prefer the regular order process that allows full and open debate, many amendments and an opportunity for broad bipartisanship. That can be achieved, if Republican colleagues come to the negotiating table with their ideas and proposals,” Nelson said.

President Obama in his State of the Union address Wednesday night urged Republicans and Democrats to take another look at the health reform plan he’s proposed, which he called an improvement over the status quo.

“But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know,” President Obama said. “Here’s what I ask of Congress, though:  Do not walk away from reform.  Not now.  Not when we are so close.  Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.”

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