Capitol Hill awaits a 3:15pm Eastern press conference from Harry Reid, who is reportedly set to announce his public-option plan amid uncertainty over Democrat support:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this afternoon will announce his decision to include a government-run health care plan, or “public option,” in the health care bill he brings to the floor, CBS News has learned.
Reid is scheduled to discuss his plans for the bill at a 3:15 p.m. ET press conference on Capitol Hill. He is expected to say he will go forward with a public option that will allow states to opt out of the program. However, he is also expected to say it is unclear whether or not he has 60 votes to move forward with the plan.
The bill will be sent to the Congressional Budget Office later today to get a cost estimate for it.
Reid has been under considerable pressure from liberal activists and legislators to include a public option in the bill.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told reporters Monday that he thinks it will be hard for Reid to get 60 votes for a public option plan in which states can opt out, the Associated Press reports. At least four key senators seem opposed, Nelson said while traveling with President Obama on Air Force One to Florida.
Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln is “non-committal.”
Philip Klein: “The big question is whether the handful of Democrats who oppose the government plan in some form would support a Republican filibuster, or provide the 60 votes Reid needs to bring a vote to the floor, and then vote against the final bill, which would then only need a simple majority to pass.”
3:21pm Eastern. Reid announces “public option” with state “opt-out” provision until 2014.
Reid says he will send to CBO in next few hours “a number of…anyway, proposals.”
“Public option has been talked about a lot. It’s something I believe in…I think it’s important that the matter we work on in the Senate have a public option.”
Reid talked to Snowe, who is opposed to any kind of public option. “We’ll have to move forward and hope she sees the wisdom of public option.” Reid describes Snowe as “frightened.”
Asked to explain how exactly state opt-out would work, Reid provides no specifics.
Reid says “there will be a co-op in this bill.”
Reid whines about lack of “moderate” Republicans. “I can count them on two fingers.”
As Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) prepares to announce he’s ignoring concerns from moderate Senate Democrats and the Obama White House, and moving forward with a government-run health care option at this afternoon’s press conference, please consider the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) statement regarding this latest example of heavy-handed partisanship:
“A primary reason Harry Reid is one of the most endangered incumbents facing re-election in either party next year is due to the fact that he is viewed by many of his constituents as a partisan bully. His decision to write a health care bill behind closed doors, bow to pressure from the far left, and ram this bill through the Senate will only further cement that negative image.
“It also reaffirms the importance of restoring checks-and-balances in Washington next year. As Democrats prepare to run up the national credit card even higher, it’s clear they didn’t learn a thing from the failed stimulus boondoggle. They are attempting to spend their way out of our nation’s economic crisis with little thought or regard to the debt being passed on to future generations.
“One thing is clear though – Harry Reid and his Democrat colleagues who decide to bow to pressure from the left and continue to rubber-stamp this liberal, partisan agenda of Washington-run health care and reckless government spending will be held accountable by voters next November.” – Brian Walsh, NRSC Communications Director
Where’s the beef? Legal Insurrection: Harry Reid: “I Have Nothing to Announce, So Pay Attention.”
In other words, Reid has nothing. Not enough votes for cloture at this point. No cost estimates. Only a hope and a prayer that the CBO score will be favorable, and allow him to move a bill to the floor.
Political thesaurus watch:
A government-sponsored “public option” for health care lives, though it may be more attractive to skeptics if it goes by a different moniker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday.
In an appearance at a Florida senior center, the Democratic leader referred to the so-called public option as “the consumer option.” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., appeared by Pelosi’s side and used the term “competitive option.”
Both suggested new terminology might get them past any lingering doubts among the public—or consumers or competitors.