Republican Senators hammered away tonight at the huge Medicaid deal for Nebraska that is seen as a trade off for Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D - NE) vote for the Senate health care bill. With the addition of Mr. Nelson, the Democrats now have 60 votes to break a GOP filibuster on the Senate floor, end debate through cloture, and vote on the health care bill.
On the floor of the Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R - S.C.) railed on the “back room” deal done by Democrats to attain Nelson’s golden vote. “It’s sleazy, in my view,” he said. Sen. Tom Coburn (R - OK) said in a press conference this afternoon, “ I think you have a half nelson a three-quarter nelson and a full nelson going on here.”
This evening, Sen. Charles Grassley (R - IA) took it one step further and put forth a parliamentary inquiry to the Senate chair about a Senate rule about special tax provisions. The rule, Mr. Grassley referred to requires that when there is such a benefit, the amendment is supposed to be accompanied by a list of all such provisions and there was no such list provided by the majority leader, according to Sen. Jon Kyl (R - AZ).
“Senator Grassley referred to a Senate rule which requires that if there is a special tax provision or special other provision that it be identified by member name as soon as practicable,” said Sen. Kyl to the Washington Times. “What Senator Grassley had inquired was whether that had been done was (it had not) and what the remedy was if it hadn’t been done.”
Sen. Kyl further explained, “In effect the chair said, ‘well there was no remedy,’ so Grassley couldn’t really raise a point of order or anything of that sort to anything that provided special tax treatment for certain insurance companies in certain states as well as the Medicaid benefit for Nebraska.”
Yesterday evening, Senator Tom Harkin (D - IA), referring to Mr. Nelson’s Medicaid deal, said, “In 2017, as you know, when we have to start phasing back from 100 percent, and going down to 98 percent, they are going to say, ‘Wait, there is one state that stays at 100?’ And every governor in the country is going to say, ‘Why doesn’t our state stay there?’” he said. “When you look at it, I thought well, god, good, it is going to be the impetus for all the states to stay at 100 percent. So he might have done all of us a favor.”
Sen. Kyl, though, does not look at the situation as Mr. Nelson doing favor for anybody . “If you think you have a good bill, and you’re going to add all of these Medicaid folks to it, then it should be good for all of the states. If the bill is so great, then why do you just exempt the folks who live in one state from that requirement? That’s why we ask unanimous consent that all states be treated the same, and it was objected to by Baucus.”