Sen. Jeff Binagaman (D-NM)--one of the six members of the Senate Finance Committee who have been hashing out a health care reform bill for months--says that if bipartisan negotiations go nowhere, he'd support an effort to circumvent a filibuster and pass legislation without any Republicans.
"If we are unable to do it any other way, that is an option. It is a very difficult option," Bingaman told a crowd of about 200 at a town hall event in Albuquerque yesterday. He was referring to the possibility that Democrats will pass health care reform through the so-called budget reconciliation process.
The acknowledgment signals that even those members of Congress most invested in passing bipartisan health care reform are well aware that those efforts might not bear fruit.
"I don't think that that effort [at bipartisanship] is what is stymying progress," Bingaman said.
"It may well not succeed, but it has been worth the effort, and we are continuing with it."
Bingaman spokesman Jude McCartin confirms that he's "still hopeful" that the Finance Committee will "yield a good bill."
"It would be his preference," she said.
But if the effort fails, as Bingaman acknowledged it might, key Democrats say they are prepared to include at least some reform measures in the reconciliation bill. And now we know that at least one of the members of the Senate most committed to bipartisanship would support it.