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Will Reid Submit To The Tyranny Of The Five?

In a conference call today, Senate HELP Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) again stated his conviction that health care reform will have a public option. In defense of the public option Harkin pointed out that a majority of Senate solidly supporting the idea.

“There are 52 solid Democrats for a public option and only about five Democrats really kind of opposed to it,” Harkin added. “One has to ask if the 52 should give into the five or if the five should come on board with the vats majority. I think the answer is clear.”

Not all Democratic senators need to vote for a bill with a public option, they only need to vote for cloture to end a filibuster of the bill. Conservative Democrat Mark Pryor (D-AR) doesn’t think Democratic senators refusing to vote for cloture is a likely scenario. Even Joe Lieberman (I-CT) sounds unlikely to vote against cloture:

Lieberman said he was “inclined to let the motion to proceed” (or cloture) go forward, but “I haven’t decided yet.”

The public option has a strong majority in the Senate. So far, none of the five Democrats opposed to the public option have publicly given any indication they would let the whole of health care reform die because it contained a public option. Even if Democrats threaten to filibuster a bill with a public option, Reid can now choose to move the bill forward with only a simple majority using reconciliation.

As Rockefeller (D-WV) and Schumer (D-NY) have said, the decision to include a public option is completely in Reid’s hands. Is Harry Reid going to let his caucus to be ruled by a tiny handful of senators or will he stand with the vast majority of his party?

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com

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