Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb) is one of the centrist Democrats who had previously been wavering on whether or not he would vote to proceed to the debate on the health care bill. Today he released the statement below saying that he would vote to proceed with the debate, but that he still had some concerns about the bill. He stressed that this wasn't a way to express support for the bill, but merely supporting moving forward with the discussion of the bill.
While Sen. Nelson and I disagree on many issues in regards to health care reform, I'm very pleased to see that he realizes this vote is about moving forward with the democratic process. The tough issues of our day need to be debated in an open forum and moving forward with debate allows members of the US Senate to do just that.
Here's the statement released by Sen. Nelson's office:
November 20, 2009 – Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson announced that he will vote for the motion to proceed to debate health care reform on the Senate floor and issued this statement:
“For more than a year, Nebraskans and all Americans have debated health care reform in their homes, at work, and with friends at hundreds of town hall meetings.
“This weekend, I will vote for the motion to proceed to bring that debate onto the Senate floor. The Senate should start trying to fix a health care system that costs too much and delivers too little for Nebraskans.
“Throughout my Senate career I have consistently rejected efforts to obstruct. That's what the vote on the motion to proceed is all about.
“It is not for or against the new Senate health care bill released Wednesday.
“It is only to begin debate and an opportunity to make improvements. If you don't like a bill why block your own opportunity to amend it?
“As we have seen before, obstructionists are inviting a move toward reconciliation by opposing this first procedural vote. Let's be clear. That route shrinks debate and amendments, eliminates bipartisanship and needs only 50 votes to pass a bill.
“In the end, far more Washington-run health care policies win, but Nebraskans lose.
“In my first reading, I support parts of the bill and oppose others I will work to fix. If that's not possible, I will oppose the second cloture motion—needing 60 votes—to end debate, and oppose the final bill.
“But I won't slam the doors of the Senate in the face of Nebraskans now. They want the health care system fixed. The Senate owes them a full and open debate to try to do so.”