Reid fires back at charges that healthcare bill contains 'sweetheart deals'

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday dismissed criticism his chamber's healthcare bill was riddled with "sweetheart deals" designed to win skeptical senators' votes.

Those alleged deals are "compromises" that are commonplace in any piece of legislation, no matter who controls Congress or sponsors the bill in question, Reid told reporters.

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"One way we were able to [secure 60 votes]... was that we had to deal with the art of compromise," Reid said, noting that every lawmakers from every state have different needs they seek to satisfy. "That's what legislation is all about; it's the art of compromise."

"This legislation is no different than the defense bill we just spent $600 billion dollars on. It's no different than any other piece of legislation...," the majority leader added.

Democrats have taken considerable heat since they unveiled their manager's amendment this weekend for making a number of overtures to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Neb.), who was long on the fence about the bill.

The party ultimately made a number of changes to their legislation in order to win his support -- including revisions to its abortion language and inclusion of a provision that would require the federal government to cover Nebraska's new Medicaid patients in full.

However, that has since led some Republicans to charge Reid sweetened the deal for Nelson and essentially bought his vote. Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) hinted at that on Monday as well, labeling the Nelson compromises and other parts of the bill part the "most offensive and outrageous things I've seen in a long time," he told The Hill.

Reid did not exactly broach the subject of Nelson, in particular, during the press conference on Monday. But he did fire back at allegations his party had done any special favors for the Nebraska senator, who has said he would vote against a conference report that differed from the Senate's current healthcare proposal.

"I don't know if there's a senator who doesn't have something in this bill that's important to them," Reid said. "And if they don't have something in it that's important to them, then it's doesn't speak well for them."