Grassley Admits That GOP Leadership Is Urging Him To Block Public Option

In an article over the weekend, the National Journal highlighted congressional Republicans’ strategy to defeat efforts to reform health care. With Democrats having such a large majority in the House, the article noted that “Senate Republicans know they may be the last chance to stop the legislation this fall.” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, has taken the lead role in negotiating the bill for the GOP. But at the same time, Grassley said Senate Republican leadership is encouraging him not to negotiate:

Grassley contended that Republicans should be delighted that he’s on the job. …[He] said that Republican leaders asked him to block any Democratic moves to ration health services or implement a public option, although he tentatively supports a public cooperative that is not government-run. “So, the two things that Republicans are most concerned about — the public option and rationing — ain’t going to be in it,” he concluded.

Indeed, Grassley seems to be taking his marching orders without hesitation. During a television interview in June, he argued that in order for a health care reform bill to be bipartisan, “we need to make sure that there’s no public option.”

But also in the article, a top aide to former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert reiterated the Party’s motives for blocking reform:

If the Democrats don’t get health care, and the jobless rate is above 10 percent, it could be a big election for Republicans next year,” predicted consultant John Feehery, who was a top aide to then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) concurred with this sentiment in interviews last month. “We can stall” health care reform, Inhofe boasted in another interview, adding, “And that’s going to be a huge gain for those of us who want to turn this thing over in the 2010 election.”


While the GOP is focused on its political strategy for 2010, the American public is focusing on passing health care reform. Numerous polls conducted recently confirm that the public option in any reform bill has majority support.


Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told CNN that he hasn’t seen a public option proposal that he can support.