THE TREATMENT DECEMBER 17, 2009
In a local radio interview this morning, Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson indicated that he remains a "no" for now. He's not satisfied with the compromise on abortion that Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey proposed. He's not happy about the burden the Medicaid expansion places on states. He's not content with the level of cost control. He could be posturing, of course, but this is entirely consistent with what he's been saying all along. And it's why insiders have been warning he'd be harder to win over than Joe Lieberman. (Time's Amy Sullivan is among those not at all surprised at this deveopment. )
To be clear, Nelson hasn't walked away from the negotiating table, according to several Capitol Hill sources.* Neither has Republican Senator Olympia Snowe. But her colleague from Maine, Susan Collins, seems to be out. So that means no bill will pass through regular order until either Nelson or Snowe agree. And both have made it clear they won't be rushed.
That "Valentine's Day" prediction is starting to look less and less ridiculous.
*Via e-mail, a Senate aide points out that Nelson's new press release is a lot more nuanced than the radio interview was. "Christmas is still possible," the aide says.