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Howard Dean, DFA, Launch Campaign Encouraging 51-Vote Health Care Bill

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Newscom / KEVIN DIETSCH

Mary Rickles, communication director for Democracy for America says the campaign is an outgrowth of the group's earlier projects: "This is an extension of what we've been doing...drawing a line in the sand for the public option."

"This is us saying that there's the support based on what elected have told us. We haven't necessarily been in contact with electeds to say we're going to start this new campaign. But we saw this a logical next step for the grassroots."

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders are preparing a reconciliation strategy for health care reform in parallel with their efforts to amass a 60 vote majority. But, for now, they regard that as a final contingency. You can read the entire letter below.

DFA -

Join President Obama in calling on Congress to get the job done

We've worked together since the beginning of the healthcare debate to draw a line in the sand -- the choice of a public option must be included in any reform bill passed this year. And every time Republicans have tried to kill it or the insurance industry has claimed it's already dead, we've stood up and proven them wrong.

The new line from opponents of reform is that Congress doesn't have the votes to pass a public option.

Once again, thanks to you, we've proven them wrong.

We've asked everyone in Congress where they stand. At least 218 House and 51 Senate Democrats have said they would vote for the final healthcare bill if it included the choice of a public option rather than vote against the bill and kill reform. That means Congress has the majority votes needed to pass a public option -- TODAY.

Now is the season for action. The majority of Americans want it. Majority votes in Congress will pass it. Join President Obama in calling on Congress to get the job done this year.

ADD YOUR NAME NOW

Some have said it takes 60 votes to pass any bill in the U.S. Senate. It's a myth.

It's a myth because while any Senator can attempt to block most Senate bills with a procedural tactic called the filibuster, there are exceptions. Senate rules don't allow filibusters of certain bills that affect the budget. That's right; the healthcare reform plan including the choice of a public option can be passed in a budget bill by a majority vote in the U.S. Senate.

Don't take my word for it. Numerous budget scholars and experts on Senate procedure have staked their reputations on it. Stan Collender, a contributing editor at the National Journal, contributing writer for Roll Call, and author of "The Guide to the Federal Budget" is an expert on the subject. Here's how he explains it:

"The House-passed version of the 2010 budget resolution allows health care reform to be included in a reconciliation bill and, therefore, adopted in the Senate with 51 votes..."

"First, contrary to what some have been saying, reconciliation has become such a standard part of the budget process that using it for health care would be neither surprising nor precedent-setting. When they were in the majority, Republicans insisted that reconciliation was allowed by Senate rules and used it in 2001, 2003 and 2005. Back then, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who has been one of the biggest opponents of using reconciliation this year, made what in retrospect is an almost infamous floor speech about the appropriateness and legality of using reconciliation.

Second, health care reform will have a substantial impact on federal finances and so can't be said to be unrelated to the budget, which is one of the critical criteria for using reconciliation. In fact, given that at least two of the largest mandatory federal spending programs -- Medicare and Medicaid -- are health care programs; health care reform and reconciliation would seem to be a perfect fit."

Over 25 times in history the Senate has passed major reforms this way, including the Bush tax cuts and funding for the Iraq War. Whether the Senate passes reform through a budget bill or in a different bill that has overcome a filibuster, the truth of the matter is it only takes a majority vote to get the job done.

JOIN ME IN CALLING ON CONGRESS TO PASS REAL REFORM WITH MAJORITY VOTES

Even after months of right-wing fear mongering and misinformation, the majority of Americans still want the choice of a public option. Just last Saturday, CBS News released a poll that showed support for a public option has increased since the President's speech to Congress in which he explained what it would provide as a part of his healthcare plan.

President Obama can sign healthcare reform including a public option into law this year if we make sure Congress passes real reform.

When we work together, we're unstoppable. Thank you for everything you do.

-Howard

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Democracy for America

About The Author

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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