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Senate disputes threaten 2009 passage of health-care bill
Democratic leaders also have not satisfied concerns raised by Nelson over the availability of abortion coverage in the Senate legislation. Nelson has said he would vote with Republicans to filibuster the Senate bill unless the current language is tightened.
"I'm encouraged that they're trying to do something about it," Nelson said of Democratic leaders, although he added, "nobody's coming back to me with language." Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), one of the negotiators on the abortion provisions, said she was optimistic that middle ground would be found. "It looks like we're making some progress," she said Sunday.
The wait for the CBO report created a rare lull in a debate that otherwise has advanced briskly through the fall. "Everything's on hold until we get the CBO analysis," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). "That'll be the defining moment. We'll see what the combined effect of all these things is, that have been added in recent days, and until you see that, I don't think people can form a judgment."
Nelson bristled at complaints from some of his Democratic colleagues that he has extracted multiple concessions but had still not committed to the bill. "I'm not looking for ways to just be against this legislation, or I wouldn't have become a friend of the process," he said.
But Lieberman's Sunday afternoon conversation with Reid, confirmed by senior Senate Democratic aides, created an unexpected new twist. Reid had urged Democrats to withhold judgment about the buy-in plan until the CBO had finished its work and details of the proposal could be shared with lawmakers.
"I don't know exactly what's in it," Lieberman told "Face the Nation" of the Medicare buy-in. But "from what I hear, I certainly would have a hard time voting for it."