As I've said, Democrats can afford to lose Ben Nelson (and seven other moderates) and still use a reconciliation measure to fix health care. But it sure helps when Nelson says things like this:
“If Republican colleagues are serious about fixing our health care system and want to avoid using the reconciliation process, then I will go to the negotiating table with them,” Senator Nelson said. “If Republican senators join me at the table, we can use bipartisanship for health reform rather than use reconciliation, which needs only 50 votes to approve legislation.
“All it takes is one Republican to come forward, put partisanship aside, and work on behalf of those that do not have or cannot afford health insurance,” Nelson added. “Working together, we can fight to ensure health reform relies on our private market system, rather than the government to reduce the cost of health care and deliver better care for millions of Americans.
“Reconciliation has never been my preference for moving legislation. Instead, I always prefer the regular order process that allows full and open debate, many amendments and an opportunity for broad bipartisanship. That can be achieved, if Republican colleagues come to the negotiating table with their ideas and proposals,” Nelson said.
The worst thing that could happen would be for Republicans to actually take Nelson up on this, stretch out negotiations for however many more months and entice the desperate-for-bipartisan-cover Democrats to settle for a fig leaf solution.