The White House and Democratic Leadership in the Senate has told Senator Nelson they will close every military base in Nebraska — a threat that is not credible, really — but they have also offered Senator Nelson between $300 million to $500 million in earmarks, according to key hill health care operatives. These hundreds of millions will be available for whatever he wants to spend them on in Nebraska.
Given Senator Nelson’s hard core earmarking history as an appropriator, the word on the street is that this is the real carrot that could get Nelson to agree to some cover amendment that would allege to protect the innocent unborn from government funding of abortion, but, in fact, would not.
Unless a Sanders or Burris — or some other liberal — objects to the bill having no public option, then if Nelson holds the bill dies, and if Nelson does not hold, the bill passes. Given that the Dems have caved to Lieberman — this is the whole ball game — Senator Nelson. The Dem leadership could still win without Nelson, if they got Snowe since there is no public option, or they could cave to Nelson like they did to with Lieberman (who now will likely back the bill). Or Reid could follow in the Speaker’s footsteps and add in the Stupak abortion restrictions, but this would tempt fate since their liberal base would have to swallow both no public option and abortion restrictions.
The next 36 hours are key to this fight, given the fact the Dems caved to Lieberman. It’s all about Nelson now, plain and simple. Will he do what his constituents want and kill the bill, or will he take the cash?