In another surprising step forward for the public option, 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.
With more and more Senators signing on to the letter urging Reid to hold an up or down vote on the public option under reconciliation rules, Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau sends over a statement signaling Reid’s qualified support for the move:
"Senator Reid has always and continues to support the public option as a way to drive down costs and create competition. That is why he included the measure in his original health care proposal.
"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."
This is BIG news. Until now, Reid has been hesitant (and understandably so) about using reconciliation on health care. It's complicated, difficult, and very time-consuming. But with Republicans unwilling to agree to even a final vote on health care reform and an increasing number of progressive Democrats unwilling (and rightfully so) to sacrifice their principles for just any bill, this is the only realistic possibility left to pass the bill.
So now, Senate parliamentarians and Senate Democratic leaders will have to figure out how to properly use reconciliation to get health care done. And in the mean time, House Democratic leaders will have to ensure they still have at least 218 confirmed votes for both the Senate bill and the new reconciliation "fix" to the Senate bill while President Obama helps round up support in both houses of Congress and among the American people.
Let's hope they all make it happen soon!