Nelson, Sanders Still Oppose Senate Health Reform Bill, Burris Sounds Open

By Britt

Dec 17, 2009 3:11pm

ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports:

Democratic Senators say they could keep the senate in session for the next six straight days – all the way through Christmas Eve – to overcome a Republican filibuster of health reform legislation. But they also still have some convincing to do on their own side of the aisle. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb, is still threatening to filibuster health reform bill unless language to further restrict access to abortion for people who receive government help paying for health insurance is included in the bill. Nelson's amendment to toughen a ban on federal funds being used for abortion coverage, which mirrored language in the House-passed health reform bill, was defeated by Senate Democrats Dec. 8th. But a written statement from Nelson this afternoon makes clear that while his amendment failed, he is not on board with the reform bill yet. Attempts to sway him to abandon a filibuster of the bill by defraying the abortion language with tax credits for adoption and teen pregnancy initiatives have not been successful. (he also said as much to AM radio station KLIN in Nebraska this morning) Nelson says he "is open to looking at additional attempts to maintain the federal restriction on public funding of abortion." So he's not a "no", just a "not yet." Sen. Bernie Sanders, from the other side of the spectrum, is also not yet on-board.  But there is some good news for Democrats from Sen. Roland Burris, the only person in the Senate who said he would not vote for a bill that lacked a public option. Burris' ongoing evolution on this point continued today as he said in remarks on the Senate floor that a vote for a Senate bill is not final and gives lawmakers more time to improve health reform. Our vote on this bill is not an ending. only a door to the next step of conference," he said. And Burris rebuked the sentiment of Howard Dean – "kill" the Senate bill – when he said: "After 100 years of debate we've come too far and worked too hard to turn back now. too many Americans are counting on us."

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