Well as they say, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings” and boy is that appearing to be true when it comes to health care. States are upset over the “sweetheart deals” made for some states to win votes. Congressman Stupak is being told to “be quite” by the White House on the abortion amendment to healthcare until they can get it worked out. So when these two bills (House version & Senate version) go to committee to reconcile them both, there may be some big problems.
10 Red States Now Questioning Nelson Deal
At least 10 states are now raising questions about the legality of the deal that Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat, cut for his home state of Nebraska during the health care negotiations.
Under the agreement, which is on the verge of being approved Thursday by the Senate, Nebraska is permanently exempt from paying for its expansion of Medicaid, shoving that cost onto taxpayers in every other state.
Mr. Nelson was able to exercise such leverage because in exchange, he was providing the magical 60th vote that Democrats needed to advance their health care bill.
The deal has enraged other Senators, especially those from red states, whose Republican Senators didn’t bring home any pork at all because they were not part of the negotiations with Democratic leaders. Several other Democratic Senators did get concessions for their states, but no deal has hit the nerve struck by Mr. Nelson’s.
Attorneys general in at least 10 states held a conference call late Tuesday to consider how they might challenge the deal, which they call federally subsidized vote-buying.
Some say it is certainly unfair and may be unconstitutional.
Troy King, the attorney general in Alabama, told MSNBC on Wednesday that the Constitution was not written to allow “the subsidization of a backroom deal.”
The Constitution, he said, was written to protect citizens from arbitrary and capricious decisions by Congress, not “for Congress to force Alabama to subsidize vote-buying.”
Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist, defended the Nebraska deal on MSNBC. He said that brokering legislation was a long American tradition and said there was nothing unconstitutional about it. In fact, he said that Mr. King of Alabama had been “incoherent” in trying to back up his assertion that it was unconstitutional.
Could the growing backlash threaten passage of the health care bill? Mr. Nelson has said that he would vote for the bill only if nothing in it were changed. That makes it seem unlikely that Democratic leaders would try to undo the bill before the Thursday vote because doing so could threaten final passage.
But if anger builds — and especially if it spreads to Democratic senators — it may be harder for the Senate and House to keep the Nebraska deal intact when they meld their two bills in January.