Harry Reid told local constituents in a conference call on Thursday that the final bill that goes to the president’s desk will have a public option. In the past, he has preferred a public option but doubted whether the sixty for cloture could be achieved–until progressive organizations threatened him. They made it clear that if he couldn’t even get the sixty for cloture on a bill with the public option, he’s no use to them. They threatened that in next year’s election, which is on shaky ground for him, they would sit on their hands and watch him lose to a Republican.
Dems would hope to pick up a seat to replace that loss, perhaps in the form of Robin Carnahan.
So Reid is serious now about getting it passed. The best place to start would be when he melds the Finance Committee’s “no public option” bill with the Health Committee’s bill that has one. TPM points out:
If he adopts the latter panel’s public option, it would dramatically alter the nature of the legislative battle, shifting the onus from liberals, who have been doggedly fighting to include the public option in the Senate bill, on to conservative Democrats, who would have to decide whether their opposition to the popular measure is so strong that they’d be willing to join the GOP in a health care filibuster and tank the entire reform effort.
TPM says, further, that Reid can assuage hurt Blue Dog egos at that point by letting them and Republicans offer an amendment to remove the public option from the bill. Such an amendment would fail, but conservative Democrats could at least go on the record as opposing the option–without committing political suicide by voting against cloture.
This is such very good news.