Face Off: Liberal And Conservative Democrats Huddle To Reach Public Option Compromise

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It’s crunch time! In a rare face-to-face meeting between conservative and liberals members, a number of key Democrats huddled behind closed doors tonight to discuss the public option in the hopes of reaching some sort of compromise in time to salvage the health care bill.

On hand were Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)–who’s been trying to broker a compromise between competing factions for months–Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)–who’s been floating a potential compromise modeled on Olympia Snowe’s trigger–and Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Ben Nelson (D-NE).

According to Rockefeller, the range of views is an indication that things are coming down to the wire.

“There’s no question about that,” Rockefeller told reporters. “This should have started a long time ago and thankfully Harry Reid caught it in time to put us together.”Those in attendance were tight-lipped about the developments, describing the meetings, in broad terms, as positive and productive.

Brown, who said yesterday that he was not interested in further compromise on the public option, would not comment on the deliberations.

“It was a good meeting, we’re making progress,” Harkin said. “There’s two sides and there’s a middle and that’s where we’re going to wind up.”

For his part, Carper told reporters the Senators discussed “every [public option] alternative under the sun.”

I asked him if his proposal had won the day.

“In a strange way, maybe it has,” Carper said, laughing.

The same group plans to convene again over the weekend, as they work toward a final solution.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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