Sen. Landrieu on healthcare vote: 'I can't be bought'

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) on Tuesday made explicit there was no "Louisiana Purchase" in the Senate's healthcare bill, emphasizing her vote could never be "bought" by promises of federal aid.

While the Louisiana Democrat said she fought hard for the more than $300 million in Gulf Coast recovery money ultimately included in the chamber's healthcare bill, she stressed to C-SPAN during an interview today that the new federal money was not the sole reason she supported the legislation.

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Instead, Landrieu said it was "one of about 12 things" she asked to be added to the bill before she committed to voting with her party's leadership.

"It's been a very unjust criticism. The fact of the matter is, and I know people don't believe this, but I can't be bought," she said.

"I make no excuses, I am not bowed, I am proud to have done this, and it did not cause me to vote for this bill," Landrieu repeated. "Had this thing been in the bill and others weren't, I wouldn't have voted for it. It's as simple as that."

By Landrieu's logic, Democrats' decision to include Gulf Coast money in their larger reform bill is legitimate, as the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina warrants increased federal aid to the area's neediest victims.

Specifically, she said the heightened enrollment in Medicaid after the hurricane would have required Louisiana to contribute more state dollars than it had available annually to uninsured residents.

"Louisiana was going to be treated like we were like Connecticut or Maryland, a much richer state," Landrieu said. "We are not....Our entire delegation supported this, so yes, I asked for it to be included in the bill."

That money, Landrieu added, could even later apply to other states similarly coping with the economic or medical strains of natural disasters, further proving it is not a perk exclusive to her home state.

However, that explanation is probably unlikely to satisfy many Senate Republicans, who say the money Landrieu received is not too unlike the Medicaid committment Democrats offered to Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in the late hours of the healthcare debate.

But as that clamor over alleged "sweetheart deals" raged on, Landrieu maintained she did only what any other lawmaker would have done in her situation..

"It's not only not embarrassing, I'm proud to have fought for this," she said.

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