Reid does something Right after all
I didn’t think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had it in him to pull off something like this. But despite the obstacles in the Senate (named Nelson, Lincoln, Bayh, Landrieu and Lieberman), and even with President Obama himself reportedly pushing back against it, Reid has gotten a public option into the health care reform bill that will go before the whole Senate. And presumably he wouldn’t have let it go to the floor unless he had the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and put it to a vote.
This public option, unlike the House version, does have an opt-out clause for states. But that’s a fair and acceptable compromise, IMO. And it’s far better than the “trigger” option championed by Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and reportedly favored by the White House, which would have been too easy for the insurance companies to game.
Maybe the “pushback” from the White House was nothing more than Obama not being sure that Reid could get the votes and wanting to make sure he could at least get something to the floor. Maybe it was just another case of unnamed sources trying to push their own agenda and the media going along with it. I certainly hope Obama wasn’t naive enough to think that getting one lone Republican on board (and the most moderate one in the Senate at that) was worth badly weakening a bill that will ultimately be a big part of his legacy.
If the Senate can invoke cloture and pass this version (and, again, you’d think Reid wouldn’t announce this to the public unless he was sure those things would happen), the House and Senate bills will go into a conference committee to form the final bill that both chambers would have to approve before President Obama can sign it. The fact that both the House and Senate versions will apparently have a public option raises the likelihood that the final bill will have one too.
There is still work to be done. But if Harry Reid pulls this off, I’ll have to admit that he does have some cojones after all.