Letter to the Editor

Thanks and clarifications

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dear Editor;

I want to thank Dick Trail for his kind words about Senator Ben Nelson and glad to see that he agrees with Senator Nelson and is for health care reform but opposed to socialized medicine.

It is also gratifying to see that Mr. Trail commends Senator Nelson for his opposition to any bill that would cover illegal immigrants, fund abortions or raise taxes.

I also commend Mr. Trail for recognizing that Senator Nelson has been a longtime champion of tort reform to hold down medical malpractice costs in Nebraska. In fact, as Nebraska's Insurance Director under then Governor J. James Exon, Mr. Nelson helped get Nebraska's tough tort law passed by the Nebraska legislature.

Many people do not understand the workings of the United States Senate which is understandable but a couple of factual misunderstandings in Mr. Trail's column need to be corrected.

First, Senator Nelson is not a member of any of the committees that are writing health care reform legislation. Thus, it is impossible for him to "vote NO to bring the bill out of committee" as Mr. Trail urged. Under the rules, a Senator, not a member of a committee, is not eligible to vote on legislation being considered by that committee or on whether the legislation comes to the floor.

But, when it comes to the floor all senators can then vote on amendments, procedural motions or up or down on final passage.

As is clearly listed on his website, Senator Nelson is a member of the following committees, Armed Services, Appropriations, Agriculture and Rules. He is not a member of Finance or HELP, the two committees writing health care reform legislation.

It is also important to correct the record that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is actually a member of the House and not a Senator.

Again, I want to thank Dick Trail for his interest in this and helping to explain the process.


Jim Fagin

Deputy Director of Communications

Senator Ben Nelson

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