Sens. Chuck Schumer and Jay Rockefeller held a press call this afternoon in which both stated their confidence that, in Schumer's words, the "healthcare bill signed into law wil have a good, strong, public option."
The call, held on the eve of tomorrow's mark-up when their public option amendments will be offered, promised some fun for tomorrow's proceedings. Both members refuse to consider the possibility that there won't be a public option in the final legislation, even in light of the reality of the challenge that the Senate Finance committee is "more conservative than the Senate caucus as a whole, and the Senate is more conservative than the House." The fight would "go down to the wire," but nonetheless, Rockefeller asserted that, "I think we have a good shot of getting it out of the Finance Committee."
Both reiterated the necessity of having the public option to create competition and bring the costs down, and that the co-ops were an unacceptable alternative for a public option, with Rockefeller saying "there really isn't an alternative except the status quo."
The optimism on Schumer's and Rockefeller's part was reiterated this afternoon by Sherrod Brown on The Ed Show, who declared
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was "wrong" when he appeared pessimistic about the chances of a public option making it through the Senate.
"We'll get enough votes," Brown said, citing bills that have passed through three House committees and the Senate HELP Committee with a public option.
Emanuel is "wrong, because of this: Not every Democrat right now would prefer the public option in the Senate ... but no Democrat in the end is going to vote against a procedural question to kill the health care bill," he said.
He added that there are 50 Democratic senators solidly supportive of the public option. That growing certitude in the Senate could be an outgrowth of the developments we've seen in the last few days in the House: the Progressive's continued strong stance on the public option, Speaker Pelosi's refusal of triggers, and the Blue Dogs' weakening opposition. Even Emanuel recognizes that the House will have a public option. Taken together, there is a reason for optimism.
At the same time, given all these factors, the health insurance industry will triple its efforts to kill the public option. You'll probably see the first salvos of that fight in tomorrow's mark-up.