White House Rebuts 'False' Report It Threatened Senator to Vote for Health Care

The White House knocked down a report Wednesday that it had threatened to close an Air Force base in Nebraska if that state's senior U.S. senator didn't cast what could be the crucial 60th vote needed to pass a health care bill in the Senate.

The Weekly Standard, citing an unnamed source, reported in a blog posting Tuesday that the White House threatened to place Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list if Sen. Ben Nelson, a moderate Democrat who is seeking to insert tougher restrictions on abortion coverage in the bill, didn't cooperate.

But the White House dismissed the report Wednesday as nothing more than a partisan "rumor."

"This rumor is absolutely false, as the people spreading it well know," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a written statement to Fox News. "This is nothing but a cynical, crass political game that is designed to maintain the status quo."

Senate Democratic leaders appear close to having the required 60 votes needed for passage after dropping a government-run insurance plan and a proposed Medicare buy-in from the bill to appease moderates like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut.