With now more than 40 Senators saying they would support the public option in a reconciliation vote, Dick Durbin is trying to put the brakes on the process, saying that liberals may be asked to oppose the amendment [sub req] now that they've said they would support it. Roll Call reports:
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) acknowledged Wednesday that liberals may be asked to oppose any amendment, including one creating a public option, to ensure a smooth ride for the bill. “We have to tell people, ‘You just have to swallow hard’ and say that putting an amendment on this is either going to stop it or slow it down, and we just can’t let it happen,” Durbin, who supports a public option, told reporters. “We have to move this forward. We know the Republicans are likely to offer a lot of amendments, and some of them may be appealing to Democrats, but we have to urge them to stick with the bill.”
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a leading centrist, suggested Democrats should be able to avoid blowing up a reconciliation package if there is ample negotiation on it before it hits the floor. But Carper appeared to warn his Democratic colleagues that any move to amend the reconciliation bill, however noble the policy aims, would only lead to chaos.
That's the same Tom Carper whose contribution to the hcr debate was the deservedly short-lived opt-in, triggered co-op. But regardless of how worthless his contribution to the debate has been, he still gets a vote. As should Senate liberals, who as of yet aren't backing down.
But prominent Senate liberals said they are determined to put the public option question to the test when reconciliation comes to the floor.
“I think we have got to do everything that we can to get a public option so that is absolutely something ... somebody can and should do,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats.
Sanders said liberals have not decided who would offer such an amendment. However, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) led a petition drive to get Senators to sign a letter pledging their support for it. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has been tracking the letter signatories and Member statements, projects 41 firm votes in favor of the public option.
Sanders said he believes supporters will have the votes when the amendment comes up. “I can’t swear it to you, but I do think we can,” Sanders said. “I think that some people for whatever reason choose not to sign a letter but will vote. Yeah, I think we’ve got it.”
This largely seems to be an effort to discourage any amendments from being offered, though there is no indication as of yet that anyone other than public option supporters are being told to stand down. The Roll Call story says that other Senators, including Wyden and Boxer, "declined to rule out trying to change the reconciliation measure on the floor" pending knowing what will actually be in the reconciliation fix.