Joe Biden: Meet Ben Nelson

The White House has finally decided to engage in an aggressive effort to pass health care bill. Better late than never, I guess.

Vice President has an op-ed in today’s New York Times. Guess what? He supports the Senate version of the bill. There’s an explanation of why the bill is so good with repeated references to not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. We get it.

But, Biden’s op-ed has a very misleading line:

If the bill passes the Senate this week, there will be more chances to make changes to it before it becomes law.

Biden may tell us that, but if he’s implying the bill will be improved, it’s highly unlikely. Most of the not-so-perfect elements of the Senate bill came from the two most important Senators EVER: Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson. Over the past few days, Obama’s team and Harry Reid worked very hard to garner the elusive 60th vote for cloture from Ben Nelson. Yesterday, Ben Nelson had his own press conference to make a few things clear. I watched him. One thing he said was that if there are “material changes” to the Senate bill in conference, he won’t vote for cloture. Here’s my report:

Nelson also said there will be a “limited conference” between the House and Senate. If there are “”material changes” to the Senate bill in conference, he will vote against cloture. So, Ben Nelson now runs the House, too.

And, this:

“Without in any way intending to be threatening, to be more in the mode of promising,” Mr. Nelson said, “let me be clear, this cloture vote is based on the full understanding that there will be a limited conference between the Senate and House. If there are material changes in that conference report different from this bill that adversely affect the agreement, I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote. Let me repeat it. I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote if there are material changes to this agreement in the conference report. And I will vote against it, if that is the case.”

I suspect any changes from the House would be viewed as “material changes” by Ben Nelson. So, stop trying to spin the American people. There may be more chances to change the bill, but that won’t happen. If any changes are made, the White House will lose Ben Nelson’s vote. I seriously doubt Joe Biden would write an op-ed in the New York Times castigating Nelson if that were to happen.

UPDATE @ 11:17 a.m.: Biden should meet Kent Conrad, too:

Sen. Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster would not hold together unless the Senate bill emerged largely intact from a House-Senate conference.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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