Today on a conference call with reporters, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) reiterated that the Democratic leadership wants 70 to 75 votes in Senate for health reform. Sens. “Baucus and Kennedy have no desire to actually have to use reconciliation whatsoever… we all understand if it gets down to that kind of acrimonious debate, the country will lose… if this breaks down we don’t want to lose the opportunity to pass health reform,” Dodd said.
In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has also penned a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) extending Republicans “a seat…at the table”:
In order for this bipartisan process to take root, Republicans must demonstrate a sincere interest in legislating. Rather than just saying no, you must be willing to offer concrete and constructive proposals. We cannot afford more of the obstructionist tactics that have denied or delayed Congress’ efforts to address so many of the critical challenges facing the nation...I hope your conference will recognize that this issue is too important to be manipulated for political purposes. This is a seat for you at the table; we hope you take it.
So far, Republicans have shown only limited willingness to cooperate on the issue. McConnell, for instance, had penned a letter to Obama in the lead up to the White House Health Forum effectively taking the public health plan off of the table and Republicans have promised to release a non-starter alternative to Obama’s proposal: Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) widely discredited approach to reforming the health system.
As Families USA President Ron Pollack explained during an earlier interview with ThinkProgress, “the first attempt will be made to try to do this in a bipartisan fashion. But it takes two to tango and we saw with the economic recovery legislation, we didn’t have two folks tangoing. You had one doing a tango and the other doing a break dance and so that didn’t quite work.” Now, both parties can try and dance to this.