Nate Bell on today's private option vote | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Nate Bell on today's private option vote

Posted By on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 6:45 PM

click to enlarge BELL: His amendment picked up his vote. Others?
  • BELL: His amendment picked up his vote. Others?
Rep. Nate Bell opposes the private option but has made a tactical decision to get what he can in this year's fiscal session and come back to fight the policy in 2015. 

Amendments from Bell and Rep. John Burris, which angered many Democrats, were designed to gain or hold Republican votes in the House. But in today's vote, in which the private option fell short of a supermajority by five votes, the only vote flipped by Bell's changes: Bell himself. So what was Bell's reaction to today's vote?

Legislative politics are worse than herding cats. The only thing I can say is you never know, it’s all rhetoric until people push a button. Today there were some people who pushed a button in direct opposition to what they had said just as recently as yesterday. At this point we have to assume that tomorrow is a different day. This got more votes this time than it did on the first vote the last time around and it wound up passing pretty solidly and I expect that it will again. 

I asked Bell what changed over the weekend.

A lot of drama with the typical House-Senate tradeoffs. A lot of people in the House not wanting to be the only people who take the heat, that the Senate has to take their fair share of it as well. …There’s a whole lot of that. Legislative, inter-Capitol politics going on. 

I asked him specifically about the rumors that there were House members who were willing to vote for the private option but wanted the Senate to vote first.

There were people who voted no today specifically for that reason. It would appear [that there were enough of these votes to put it over the top] but who knows. 

Does Bell believe that his amendments will end up being a difference maker in getting the votes for the supermajority?

What I am absolutely confident of is that there was a zero percent chance of anything happening without the amendments. Now, will the amendments be enough? I don’t know the answer to that. They were enough to get my vote. Based on conversations I’ve had with other members, many of whom are still loudly proclaiming that they’re mightily opposed to this — I would just say that many of them have privately told me that they think that’s all they can get. Whether that means that they’ll eventually vote for it or whether they’ll continue to pander to a small group of their supporters, I don’t know the answer to that.  

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