Sen. Nelson: stimulus package helped Nebraska

Omaha, NE – Nebraska's Senior U.S. Senator says the state's financial condition would be much worse had Congress not passed a stimulus bill last year.

Senator Ben Nelson says lawmakers are discussing a second jobs bill, and voted Tuesday to extend unemployment benefits for another month. Nelson says the stimulus money helped Nebraska and many other states avert a financial crisis.

Nelson says the second jobs bill would extend unemployment benefits and so-called COBRA health benefits for a longer period of time.

Senator Nelson also discussed President Obama's new health care reform proposal. Nelson says he isn't opposed to using reconciliation to pass a health care reform bill.

The Senate could use reconciliation to pass a bill with 51 votes instead of 60. President Obama unveiled a new plan for health care reform Wednesday that includes a three-part approach. Senator Nelson says he'll consider supporting reconciliation under certain circumstances.

President Obama's plan calls for ending denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It would open up a marketplace for small businesses and individuals to purchase health insurance. The president's plan also calls for bringing down costs by eliminating waste in the health care system.

Nelson's comments came Wednesday during his weekly conference call with reporters.