Five leading Democrats–including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin–have publicly announced that they will vote for a public option if it’s offered up during the budget reconciliation process, where legislation can pass with a majority vote.
“Sen. Durbin has long been a supporter of the public option,” reads a statement from Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker to the progressive groups Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, and Credo. “I don’t know whether the votes exist in the Senate right now, but if the House version of the public option came up for a vote in reconciliation Sen. Durbin would vote yes.”Similar statements were also issued from four other senators: Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
To be clear, these are not signatories to a letter–circulated by the three groups–advocating the public-option-through-reconciliation strategy. PCCC co-founder Adam Green put it this way: “We’re accepting clear statements that if the public option comes up for a vote, they would vote yes. We’re debunking what [White House Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs said last week, that the votes don’t exist — they do…we’ll prove it.”
So far, 24 members have signed the letter, and five have issued statements indicating their support for passing a public option through reconciliation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also stands behind the idea in principle. That means Green et al. have 20 members to go.