Nelson off the fence on healthcare vote, Lincoln not

Key Democratic senators are being closely watched as the first test of the Senate reform bill approaches

Topics: Healthcare Reform, War Room, Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Blanche L. Lincoln, D-Ark., Democratic Party, Harry Reid, Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.,

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can rest at least a little bit easier tonight. As he heads into the first vote in his chamber on Democrats’ healthcare reform bill, he knows he has at least one senator who was wavering on his side.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said Friday that he will vote with his fellow Democrats Saturday night on a cloture motion that will allow the Senate to begin debating the legislation.

“Throughout my Senate career I have consistently rejected efforts to obstruct,” Nelson said in a statement. “That’s what the vote on the motion to proceed is all about. It is not for or against the new Senate health care bill released Wednesday …. If you don’t like a bill why block your own opportunity to amend it?”

Another key vote, though, remains uncommitted. Majority Whip Dick Durbin had said Friday that Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., had told Reid how she’ll vote, implying that she, too, was a yes. He’s since walked that back, however, and Lincoln remains publicly uncommitted. So does Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

Elsewhere on Salon today, there’s a great piece from Joe Conason on Lincoln and her vote. You can read it here.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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