Ben Nelson Says He's In, Giving Reid His 60 Votes

Reid unveils final version of bill, including concessions on abortion
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2009 9:03 AM CST
Ben Nelson Says He's In, Giving Reid His 60 Votes
Senator Ben Nelson D-NE speaks before the US Senate voted to begin debate on legislation for a broad healthcare overhaul at Capitol Hill in Washington on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The last Democratic holdout on health care reform came into the tent this morning, as Ben Nelson said he will vote for the bill. "We're there," Sen. Kent Conrad told the Washington Post as he headed into a meeting to announce the deal, and Nelson, asked if he was prepared to support it, said, "Yeah." The breakthrough, which gives Harry Reid the 60 votes he needs to block a GOP filibuster, came after many hours of bargaining over restrictions on abortion coverage and goodies for Nelson's home state of Nebraska.

The Nelson amendment on abortion does not forbid insurance plans from covering abortion services, the New York Times reports, but it gives states power to prohibit abortion coverage in the insurance exchanges where the plans would be sold. Reid introduced the latest version of the bill this morning, and Republicans immediately forced a reading of the 383-page measure, which the Times estimates will take at least 10 hours.
(More Ben Nelson stories.)

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