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Durbin and Reid Whipping Against Public Option


Remember all those wonderful list building exercises from Harry Reid and Dick Durbin last year? You know, the ones where they told you how much they supported the public option, and snagged your email in the process?

Because I sure do. Here was Durbin‘s:

The question is no longer if we will have some sort of public option in the final health care reform bill, but instead what form it will take.
If any member of the Democratic caucus thinks no one will notice the absence of a robust public option in the final health care reform bill, they have another thing coming.

Harry Reid even had Google ads:

Want The Public Option?
Reid’s Fighting For It. What Have You Done To Help? Step Up Now!

Ah, memories.  Well, that was then.  From Roll Call:

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Wednesday that leaders will have to ask rank-and-file Democrats to vote against health care amendments they may support once a reconciliation bill comes to the Senate floor.

“We have to urge members to stick with the basic bill,” Durbin told reporters. “And we know Republicans are going to offer a ton of amendments as they always do and we know that if an amendment is adopted, it stops or slows down the process. We have to get this done and move on to more jobs bills.”

But Harry Reid doesn’t want to be left out of the party.  Also from Roll Call:

Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said leaders will ask their Members to defeat popular amendments even though they sympathize with liberals’ desire to push proposals that, during last year’s Senate floor debate, did not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Reconciliation rules require only a 51-vote majority to prevail.
“Certainly there are plenty of Members who have ideas to improve the bill,” Manley said. “The difference is … Republicans will be offering amendments to take the bill down.”

I get it.  Now that they don’t have the 60 vote excuse any more, it’s the REPUBLICAN amendments they really need to keep in check.  Never mind that there aren’t 51 Republicans.  As I recall, this was the same fabulous thinking that kept all amendments off the floor in the House bill — except Bart Stupak’s.

And if they have to kill student loan reform to do it, Durbin’s more than willing:

“If the addition of the student loan — ending the student loan subsidy to big banks and Sallie Mae — helps us pass health care reform it should be included. If it hurts us, then we can’t include it,” Durbin said.

Fuck you, kids.  That $4.7 billion that was going to go to students and state funded colleges struggling to stay afloat?  Well, Sallie Mae gets another private jet.  Or golf course.  You just have to wait until next year, when there’s another shot at reconciliation, since the lobbyists have bought off so many Senators already, and sadly, there just aren’t 60 votes.

Sign the petition — tell the Senate to pass the damn student loan bill NOW and just for once say “no” to Citibank and JP Morgan.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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