We recently learned that Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) were actually whipping against the public option and trying to deny the American people a real up-or-down vote on the issue in the Senate. It is good to see that Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is willing to defy them and instead go with the will of the American people. From Greg Sargent:
“I think somebody should do that, and I’d certainly be prepared to do that,” Sanders told me when I asked him if he’d be willing to commit to introducing a public option amendment. This is, in effect, a commitment to introduce the amendment if no one else does.
As I have explained earlier, if even one senator offers a public option amendment, and it is ruled germane, it would likely get an up-or-down vote as part of the reconciliation vote-a-rama. Designing a public option/public program buy-in that would be ruled germane and does not violate the Byrd rule should definitely be possible.
Durbin’s argument against the public option amendment, or any other smart, pro-consumer, Democratic amendments, is that they could endanger passage of the reconciliation bill if it is sent back to the House. Given that Republican sources are saying the Senate parliamentarian ruled the House must first pass the comprehensive Senate health care bill before the reconciliation fixes can be taken up, the fear that the public option amendment could derail the reconciliation fixes seem strange.
If it gets to that point, Durbin will already have the health care reform bill he originally voted for signed into law. The reconciliation fixes are minor, and clearly not overly important to Durbin, since he already voted for a bill with all the “problems” in it. Since Durbin does not want the very important student loan reform bill as part of reconciliation, there is no reason to actually worry about the fate of the reconciliation sidecar bill from his stand point.