The Advantage of Bringing A Bill With A Public Option to the Floor

Mike Lillis

Mike Lillis explains why at least one Senator thinks it is critical to include a public option in the bill that ultimately comes to the Senate floor for a vote.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), interviewed this weekend
in The Washington Post, points to the central reason that a health
reform bill that hits the floor with a public option already included
stands a better chance of ultimately keeping that provision: Namely,
the burden of getting 60 votes would shift from supporters trying to
add it to opponents trying to carve it out. From the transcript:

Kind of fun, isn’t it? We’re the ones that have always been trying to get 60 votes, now they’ll have to get 60 votes to remove.

You know, Harry Reid will, you know, make the final decision on it.

But I know the president is for it. I know Chris Dodd
is for it. Max Baucus didn’t speak against it. He just talked about the
need to get 60 votes. ‘I can’t do it because I have to get 60 votes.’
Well, if they do it there, he doesn’t have to get 60 votes. So, we’ll
get it.

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Last week, a group of 30 Democrats sent a letter
to Reid (D-Nev.) urging the Senate majority leader to include a public
option in the compromise package he’s currently weaving together from
elements of the Finance and HELP committee bills. Sen. Tom Harkin
(D-Iowa), chairman of the HELP panel, told reporters today that the actual number of Senate Democrats supporting a robust public plan tops 50.

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