Politics

Coburn and Vitter preventing Democrats from co-sponsoring public option amendment. (Updated)

The Hill reports that Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and David Vitter (R-LA) are preventing Democrats from co-sponsoring an amendment to the Senate health bill that would “force members of Congress into any public option health plan that becomes law.” The amendment was conceived by Republicans as a political stunt. As Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “If [the public option] is good enough for the American people — and they don’t think it is — then it ought to be good enough for Congress.” But Democrat Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has called them on their gimmick:

vitterSen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) said he is trying to co-sponsor the amendment — but that Coburn and Vitter won’t let him. … “They’ve not said yes to allow me to be a co-sponsor,” Brown told The Hill on Thursday. “I’ve called their office four times. I’m proud of the public option, I think it would be great and we ought to join it and show the country how good it is. I think my interest may be more genuine than theirs, but I’d like to work with them if they’ll let me. If they just want to score partisan points, I still want to work with them.”

Democrats on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee accepted the amendment into their health care bill, but it did not make it into the final legislation. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) included a provision that required lawmakers to enroll in the Exchange, but did not force them into a public plan.

UPDATE

Sen. Brown told TPM that the public option should not be compromised any further than it already has been.

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UPDATE

,Moments ago, Sen. Brown asked to be added as a co-sponsor to the Coburn/Vitter amendment by unanimous consent. The motion was approved.

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UPDATE

,Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) has asked that he and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) also be added as co-sponsors to the amendment.

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UPDATE

,Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has joined too.

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