Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is saying that the Senate has a majority for a public option–in direct contradiction to claims by President Obama. From TPM:
Sanders said he thinks Democrats have 50 votes in the Senate to pass a bill “certainly to include a public option.” It was a bit of good news for progressives, who have turned their attention to using reconciliation in the Senate to bolster a reform bill with the addition of a public option.
Last week, Obama met with House progressives, and blamed demise of the public option on the lack of votes in the Senate. Of course, I don’t know how Obama came to the conclusion the public option could not get fifty votes in the Senate through reconciliation, since every indication is that he never once whipped for it, or even politely asked a single senator to please support the idea. If the public option lacks 50 votes in the Senate, it probably does in no small part to the Obama administration’s constant signals that he did not really care about it and was more than prepared to give it up for fig leaves like triggers and co-ops.
Who is right–Sanders or Obama? The PCCC now has a total of 41 senators on record supporting the public option through reconciliation. Only 9 short of fulfilling a major health care promise Obama made to his supporters throughout the 2008 campaign.
One would hope that, if Democrats use reconciliation, the Democratic leadership will not try to stop a public option amendment when it does come up for an up-or-down vote, so we can know which senators stand with the American people, and which are fighting to protect the private insurance industry.