With their decision, Saturday, to allow the debate over health care reform come to the Senate floor, the three Democrats who helped their party reach the sixty votes necessary to proceed, all cautioned that they would not vote for the bill in its current form.
"I support parts of the bill and oppose others I will work to fix," Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) told his constituents in a written statement. "I won't slam the doors of the Senate in the face of Nebraskans now," he added. "They want the health care system fixed. The Senate owes them a full and open debate to try to do so.
voting for the U.S. Senate to begin debating broad health care
overhaul in Washington on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
"If you don't like a bill," he writes, "why block your own opportunity to amend it?"
Sen. Mary Landrieu used her floor speech to let the bill's backers know that her "vote should in no way be construed by the supporters of this current framework as an indication of how I might vote on the final bill." She went on to say that although "there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward, much more work needs to be done before I can support this effort."
Landrieu also gave kudos to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who, she said, "led the charge" to allow the more conservative Democrats in the Senate the time to formulate the changes they would propose to the bill during the debate.
"Debate on the Senate floor is where I will have the opportunity to influence the final version of health care reform legislation," Sen. Lincoln, who was the last Democrat to announce her support to move forward with the debate, said in her floor statement.
She also decried what she called "groups from outside Arkansas" who, she said, were trying to influence her vote by making it "all about my re-election." Lincoln will be running for her third term as Arkansas' senator in 2010.