The $1.2 billion cloture vote in the dead of night

by Ed Morrissey
December 21, 2009

Harry Reid passed his cloture bill a few hours ago, forcing the Senate to remain in session while America slept in order to meet an arbitrary deadline for his version of ObamaCare. As expected after the reversal of Ben Nelson (D-NE), Reid got his bill past its second procedural hurdle, thanks to some arm-twisting … and vote buying:

Landmark health care legislation backed by President Barack Obama passed its sternest Senate test in the pre-dawn hours early Monday, overcoming Republican delaying tactics on a 60-40 vote that all but assures its passage by Christmas. …

The atmosphere was intensely partisan, but the outcome preordained as senators cast their votes from their desks, a practice reserved for issues of particular importance. Administration officials who have worked intensely on the issue watched from the visitor’s gallery despite the hour. So, too, Vicki Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who championed health care across a Senate career that spanned more than 40 years.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson’s announcement Saturday that he had decided to support the bill—in exchange for a variety of concessions—cemented the Democrats’ 60-vote majority behind a bill assembled at the direction of Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

A “variety of concessions”? There really was no variety in the concessions at all. Nelson changed his vote when Reid offered new language in his manager’s amendment that would send a boatload of money to Nebraska — and not just to the Cornhusker state, either:

Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its state Medicaid program under provisions in the Senate’s healthcare reform bill negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D).

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) informed lawmakers on Sunday night that the section of the manager’s amendment to the Senate’s health bill would cost $1.2 billion over 10 years.

Nelson managed to win a share of the section of the manager’s amendment on Equitable Support for Certain States, which will provide Nebraska, along with Massachusetts and Vermont, support in paying its share of additional costs to Medicaid in the health legislation.

Massachusetts? Why would Massachusetts need extra help in paying its Medicaid obligations? They already have a version of ObamaCare in place, which was supposed to contain and control health-care costs. Apparently, it didn’t work as advertised — and neither will Reid’s version of ObamaCare either.

When that fails, who will bail out ObamaCare, as Massachusetts needs a bailout now? Oh, right. Us.

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