Reconciliation and Public Option on Their Way?


The stalemate on health care reform may finally be coming to an end, as more Democratic senators are publicly discussing the idea of using reconciliation to break the impasse. 

Support for reconciliation has been spreading rapidly, as Huffington Post shows in its minute by minute updates here.  It began as an effort by four Democratic senators signing onto a letter stating both a desire to pass healthcare through the use of a reconciliation process, which would require a simple majority of senators rather than the 60-senator majority required to break a filibuster, and a call specifically to pass the public option.  

Since the letter was released, numerous Democratic senators have signaled their support.  One of the latest, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is the third highest ranking Democrat in the senate, and having his support moves the action into what now passes for the mainstream of the party.

According to the letter, drafted by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet and originally cosigned by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), "[I]ncluding a strong public option is one of the best, most
fiscally responsible ways to reform our health insurance system."

In a sure sign that momentum is gaining, Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) now has stated he would support
allowing a reconcilliation vote, according to The Plum Line:

Senator Reid has always and continues to support the
public option as a way to drive down costs and create competition. That
is why he included the measure in his original health care proposal.

If
a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care,
Senator Reid will work with the White House, the House, and members of
his caucus in an effort to craft a public option that can overcome
procedural obstacles and secure enough votes.

Supporters of the reconciliation process with a restored public option are Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), Roland Burris (D-IL), John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NC).

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