The Washington Post reported this morning that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) “remains undecided about the bill“:
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who remains undecided about the bill, said he opposes money going to research projects at the National Institutes of Health and about $13 billion for Pell grants that help students pay for college. Nelson says the measures are worthy but do not belong in legislation designed to stimulate the economy.
Despite what Nelson says, both increased NIH funding and money for Pell grants are actually a wise use of stimulus dollars.
According to Fox News, Nelson convened a meeting in his Senate office today with Senate Republicans and some Democrats who are seeking “common ground on how they can improve the $819 billion economic stimulus bill.” Nelson’s meeting included Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
In an interview with Fox News after the meeting, Nelson said he didn’t know how many Democrats, let alone Republicans, would vote for the stimulus plan “as it stands today”:
HEMMER: No Republicans voted for this measure in the House. Do you know of any Republicans on the Senate side that will vote yes as it stands today?
NELSON: I don’t know, I don’t even know how many Democrats will vote for it as it stands today because a lot of my colleagues are not decided. They’re undecided on the bill as it is right now. Fortunately, we don’t have to take the vote on it right now. We have an opportunity to make some improvements.
James Pindell, who has covered New Hampshire politics since 2002, tells Political Wire that the odds of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) taking the job of secretary of commerce are currently 65-35 if offered.
But Pindell notes that Gov. John Lynch (D), who would choose Gregg's replacement in the Senate, "is the type of guy that would pick a Republican just because he is replacing a Republican and to bone up his bi-partisan credibility. Lynch has yet to comment on the issue -- heck Gregg has yet to be appointed -- but right now the money is on former Gov. Walter Peterson (R). He was chair of the 'Republicans for Lynch' committee, would vote with Democrats as much as Maine's Senators do, and most likely wouldn't run in 2010."