Feeling shutdown heat, Dem Bill Nelson amends explanation, stresses bipartisanship

Sen. Bill Nelson in his West Palm Beach office last year. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s Friday night vote against keeping the federal government open is drawing criticism from Republicans — and an amended explanation from Nelson, who’s up for re-election this year in a state Donald Trump won by 1.2 percent in 2016.

Nelson this morning sought to position himself as part of the solution, tweeting that he’s working with Republicans to end the budget stalemate.

Nelson voted with most Senate Democrats on Friday night to block consideration of a stopgap spending measure that would have keep the government running for four weeks and extended a children’s health program. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Democratic leaders insisted the measure include protections against deportation for young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents.

Only five Democrats broke with party leaders on the Friday night vote. Four of them are up for re-election this year in states Trump carried.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee took aim at Nelson and four other Democratic senators from states won by Trump  in Facebook ads released Saturday. And the Republican National Committee targeted Nelson in robocalls aimed at more than 780,000 Florida voters over the weekend.

The RNC calls are going to voters in five states that have Democratic senators and were carried by Trump. They claim Democrats “prioritized illegal immigrants over American citizens.”

Nelson initial explanation for Friday’s vote said: “These short-term funding bills are hurting our national security and, at some point, we have a responsibility to say enough is enough.”

Nelson’s office came back on Sunday with an expanded, more Florida-centric justification.

“Another reason I voted against the Continuing Resolution Friday night was that it omitted the desperately needed hurricane disaster assistance to help Florida recover. Especially hurt is Florida’s citrus industry, which lost most of its oranges in the storm. They are now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy unless we can get them some help immediately.”