Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said that compromise language over abortion funding does not go far enough to gain his vote on a broad health reform package. “There's a lot of improvement on the legislation, but the basic question about funding for abortion has not been fully answered yet,” he told a Nebraska radio station. “As it is right now, without further modifications, it isn't sufficient.”
The compromise language, crafted by another anti-abortion Democrat, Sen. Robert Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, includes measures that would increase funding for teen pregnancy programs and create a tax credit that could be used for adoption services.
Even so, Nelson said other measures in the bill—not just the abortion language—would prevent him from voting in favor of it. “There are other substantive issues,” he said. Nelson told reporters earlier that he has concerns over lax cost-containment measures and the creation of a federal long-term-care insurance program that are in the bill, too. Nelson's vote is critical to Democrats, who need all 58 of their members plus two independents who caucus with them onboard in order to move ahead with legislation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has strongly hinted that the bill would need to be changed before he votes for it.
“Sometimes when you try to do something to improve something, you unwittingly do something to do the opposite,” he cautioned about the larger bill. “That's what we're trying to avoid here.”