The top prosecutors in seven states are probing the constitutionality of a political deal that cut a funding break for Nebraska in order to pass a federal health care reform bill, South Carolina's attorney general said Tuesday.
Attorney General Henry McMaster said he and his counterparts in Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota, Texas and Washington state - all Republicans - are jointly taking a look at the deal they've dubbed the "Nebraska compromise."
"The Nebraska compromise, which permanently exempts Nebraska from paying Medicaid costs that Texas and all other 49 states must pay, may violate the United States Constitution - as well as other provisions of federal law," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said.
McMaster's move comes at the request of Republican U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
In a letter to McMaster, Graham singled out the deal to win Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson's vote on the massive health care bill the Senate is expected to adopt Thursday. Nelson held out as fellow Democrats worked to get 60 votes to foreclose a GOP filibuster and the bill was amended to shield Nebraska from the expected $45 million annual cost tied to expanding Medicaid programs.
"We have serious concerns about the constitutionality of this Nebraska compromise as it results in special treatment for only one state in the nation at the expense of the other 49," Graham and DeMint wrote.
Nebraska wasn't alone in getting Medicaid breaks. Vermont, Louisiana and Massachusetts also got help with their programs.[..]
Also Tuesday, U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said Republicans need to stop complaining about deals their colleagues made.
"Rather than sitting here and carping about what Nelson got for Nebraska, I would say to my friends on the other side of the aisle: Let's get together and see what we can get for South Carolina," Clyburn said.
Boy, this is a tough one. As much as I don't want to validate the petty obstructionist machinations of Republicans, I kinda wouldn't mind Nelson's sweetheart deal struck down. After all, he thinks we women are second class citizens undeserving of full health coverage.