Friday :: Mar 12, 2010

Durbin: If The House Passes A Public Option, He Will Whip FOR It

by Turkana

Senator Dick Durbin’s office now is saying that if House Dems pass a public option as part of their reconciliation fix, he will whip for it in the Senate. Greg Sargent has Durbin's response to critics who have lambasted him for saying he would oppose a public option reconciliation fix:

But Durbin’s spokesman, Joe Shoemaker, emails to clarify:
Sen. Durbin and the rest of the Senate Leadership will be aggressively whipping FOR the public option if it is included in the reconciliation bill the House sends over.

Here’s how the chronology would unfold: House passes Senate bill. It becomes law. House then initiates reconciliation fix, including public option. Senate leadership whips to pass reconciliation fix in Senate. Reconciliation fix — including public option — becomes law.

Seems pretty straightforward.

Sam Stein:

"Sen. Durbin and the rest of the Senate Leadership will be aggressively whipping FOR the public option if it is included in the reconciliation bill the House sends over," Shoemaker wrote in an email that he authorized PCCC founder Adam Green to make public. "Conversely, the Leaders will whip against any attempt to alter or amend the bill if the public option is not in it (or as your email says -- whip against adding the public option as an amendment in the Senate.)

"The reason is simple. There can be no amendments - good or bad - to the reconciliation bill once the House passes it and sends it to the Senate. The House will not do step one (passing the Senate healthcare bill in the first place) if they do not have assurances that the fixes they want (i.e., the fixes in their reconciliation bill) will be passed unchanged by the Senate."

Shoemaker continued: "I believe the progressive community's best hope of seeing a public option in the healthcare bill is to lobby members of the House to include it in the reconciliation bill they send to the Senate and to continue to get senators to pledge their support for it."

In an update, Sargent says Pelosi now says the public option won't be included. She had said the same about a week ago. But as mcjoan says:

Note that the timing of whether Pelosi made the statement before or after Durbin said he would whip for the public option--and whatever else--was in the House package. Note particularly this part of the statement:
"I'm quite sad that a public option isn't in there." Pelosi added. "But it isn't a case of it's not in there because the Senate is whipping against it. It's not in there because they don't have the votes to have it in there."

If Durbin will whip it if it's in there, then Pelosi's declaring it gone might have come too soon.

(emphasis mine)

The Senate whip count is at forty-one, and as Chris Bowers has pointed out, it's really at forty-four. With Durbin, that would make forty-five, with the Democratic leadership whipping for it.

Now, this could just be a gesture by Durbin to put the onus back on the House for something Durbin assumes won't happen. It's up to the Speaker to prove otherwise. Flood her phones:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (202) 225-0100

Flood the phones of your Representatives.

House Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

This is the public option's last sliver of a chance. Get it in the House bill, and it looks like it will get done.

Turkana :: 10:13 AM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!