This morning, Pat Garofalo interviewed Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) about the lobbyist-sponsored defeat of cram-downs, responding to “crazies” at town halls, and, of course health care reform. To Durbin’s surprise, Garofalo asked a question submitted by Twitter follower @skyecoleman — “will you support a health bill without a public option like what Sen. Baucus is working on?”
Initially perplexed about “these people who tweeted” on “the @wonkroom twitter feed,” Durbin quickly recovered and said that he would “reluctantly” support a bill that did not include a public health insurance option. “We have the reality of 60 votes in the Senate and two Senators who are sick,” Durbin explained. “Senator Byrd, who may be able to return. We hope he can. Senator Kennedy, we hope he can return. Without them, we need at least two, maybe three Republicans to support our effort and there seems to be universal opposition to a public option among all Republican Senators.”
Byrd was released from the hospital in June, after suffering from a staph infection and recurring fevers, and is recuperating at home. Kennedy, who last appeared in Congress in April is still undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. Meanwhile at least four Democratic senators — Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — have hinted that they won’t support a public option.
GAROFALO: We solicited questions from one from twitter user skycoleman who asks…
SEN. DURBIN: So is someone who goes on twitter tweeting?
GAROFALO: Right, yeah. We tweeted. We said ‘Hey we’re interviewing Senator Durban today, if you would like to ask some questions you can leave us a message…
SEN. DURBIN: So these were people who tweeted…
GAROFALO: Who tweeted questions to us to ask you.
SEN. DURBIN: The wonkroom twitter feed?
SEN. DURBIN: I’m learning so much
GAROFALO: So we had skycoleman, who is the user, ask ‘will you support a health care plan without a public option, like the bill the Senator Baucus is working on?’
SEN DURBIN: Well, reluctantly, I would support such a bill through the Senate because I want this process to go forward and k now the House of representatives has a bill with the public option. But we have the reality of 60 votes in the Senate and two Senators who are sick. Senator Byrd, who may be able to return. We hope he can. Senator Kennedy, we hope he can return. Without them, we need at least two, maybe three Republicans to support our effort and there seems to be universal opposition to a public option among all republican Senators. That’s the political reality. So I’ll support what it takes to get a bill through the Senate, but if you want to know my personal preference, I support the public option.