Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) pushed hard on Tuesday to back off her recent openness to reconciliation.
Earlier this morning, Lincoln told the Associated Press, in response to two questions about whether she would support reconciliation, that she wanted to see what was in the bill. In Washington, that's considered a signal that someone is openly considering voting yes.
But apparently Lincoln was only interested in reading the legislative language to satisfy her raw intellectual curiosity.
HuffPost and the AP caught up with Lincoln in the Capitol and asked her about her stance on reconciliation. "No!" she shouted from the double doors leading to the Senate Democratic cloakroom.
In an agitated tone, she then explained further: "I don't support reconciliation. All I said was I want to see what's in it," said Lincoln, who is facing a progressive primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
She didn't answer follow-up questions about why she wanted to see what was in it if her mind is made up but repeated her stiff opposition.
Lincoln's support is largely of academic interest to Senate leadership, which doesn't need her vote to get the 50 needed to pass the bill through reconciliation. Her opposition, however, puts her in a tricky spot. The reconciliation bill will remove the Cornhusker Kickback, a provision benefiting Nebraska that is so unpopular even Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) now opposes it. If Lincoln votes against reconciliation, she is also voting to support the kickback.
Lincoln's office also put out this statement:
Lincoln: My Position on Using Budget Reconciliation to Pass Health Reform Remains Unchanged
Washington - U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln today reiterated her opposition to altering the health insurance reform bill using budget reconciliation.
"Sen. Olympia Snowe and I have proposed a bipartisan way forward on health care and I still hope that my colleagues will consider it," Lincoln said. "I have promised my constituents that I will not support income tax increases to pay for health care and I will seek bipartisan solutions. This takes budget reconciliation as an alternative means to pass health care reform off the table for me. I have fought for and ensured transparency throughout this process, and I believe we must get over this final hurdle using the regular rules of the Senate."
Lincoln released the following statement after remarks made to a reporter earlier today were mischaracterized.