The Nebraska Compromise or Cornhusker Kickback refers to a deal made in December 2009 by United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Nebraska s Democratic Senator Ben Nelson, allegedly in order to secure his vote as the last Democratic hold-out for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and provide the Democrats with the required 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Concessions that were said to have been granted included a provision allowing states to restrict funding for abortions under certain circumstances, as well as a provision giving Nebraska 100 percent federal funding of the Medicaid expansion indefinitely into the future.
Ben Nelson had earlier threatened to filibuster with Republicans when language he proposed to restrict federal funding of abortion was not added to the Bill.
Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, a Democrat, said that the deal was not unusual, and that states often received individualized treatment based on the priorities of their representatives. Three months prior to the Nebraska Compromise, Reid secured within the health care bill 100 percent funding for Medicaid in Nevada.
Eventually, a later version of the bill gave all states 100 percent funding for the first three years of the Medicaid expansion, with the exception of the above provision made for Nebraska. For all other states the costs would be about 15 cents on every $1 they receive from the federal government.
The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 repealed and removed the deal. Nelson voted against the reconciliation bill, however it was able to pass without his vote since reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered.