Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will announce this afternoon that he plans to include a public option in the Senate health care reform bill and that it will allow states to opt out, “even though he’s currently short several votes” of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.
Yesterday on CNN, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) called the public option with an opt out provision “an interesting concept” but pointedly refused to endorse it. He said the “best approach” would be “to have not-for-profit insurance companies.” However, Webb also said that he will not let his personal views get in the way of the Senate having an up or down vote on the public option:
WEBB: One thing that I did say to the leader is that I will vote to proceed forward to debate. That doesn’t mean that I will necessarily at this time commit myself to voting for the result of that debate.
HOST JOHN KING: If [Reid] needs 60, he has your vote?
WEBB: We need to have the debate.
Last week, an aide to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said that Lieberman — who opposes a public option — is also “inclined” to vote for a motion to proceed. Similarly, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) recently said, “I’m not right now inclined to support any filibuster.”
But other Democratic Senators are on the fence. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) — who has gone back and forth on hints of support for the opt out provision — said on CNN yesterday, “I can’t decide about the procedural vote until I see the underlying bill.” A spokesperson for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) said “she will have to see the legislative language and cost first” before voting for cloture. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) has not indicated what his intentions are.
But when asked recently if he would support a GOP filibuster of health care reform, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) replied, “I don’t think you’ll see me or any other Democrats do that.”
At a press conference this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that “we intend to include” a public option in the Senate bill “with an opt-out provision for states.” Watch it:
,Igor Volsky writes that it will be important to understand what kind of public option plan Reid is putting on the table.