“Senator Harry Reid’s office says that if a final decision is made to pass health reform via reconciliation, the Majority Leader would support holding a reconciliation vote on the public option.”
The actual statement from Reid’s office, though, is odd.
If a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care, Senator Reid will work with the White House, the House, and members of his caucus in an effort to craft a public option that can overcome procedural obstacles and secure enough votes.
It’s a wonderful use of the passive voice (always popular on Capitol Hill) to imply that the decision whether or not to use reconciliation will come down from Mt. Olympus or somewhere — as if the Senate majority leader doesn’t have any power to control these things.
Sargent addresses this a bit, pointing out that Senate aides (1) maintain that the House would have to pass a reconciliation bill first, (2) want assurances that the White House will help to whip votes from fearful Democrats, and (3) fear that parliamentary rules to begin with might not allow the public plan to pass by reconciliation.
That’s a lot of unknowns for this late stage in the debate. You start to wonder if this public option push isn’t intended simply to shield Democrats from the liberal critics who thought all along that the Senate didn’t fight hard enough for the provision.