After a successful vote to begin debate on a landmark health care bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid addressed the news, first reported by TPMDC, that conservative Democrats are working with public option supporter Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on a compromise.
"I welcome Sen. Schumer, Landrieu and Carper--Landrieu said that they're working together on a public option that's acceptable to [all parties]."
Asked by TPMDC about Schumer's role in the negotiations, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) applauded his colleague. "Senator Schumer, when he's not hunting, works with a lot of different individuals on a lot of different points," Nelson said. "He was the one that came up with the idea of opting out--I don't think it sold very well, but he has the ability to be very pragmatic about a lot of these issues, and that makes him very important in the process."
Public option stalwart Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said he hopes that triggers aren't ultimately affixed to the public option, but isn't alarmed that Reid isn't tamping down on the negotiations.
"That's been Harry from the very beginning. He's always said that, and he's always meant it," Rockefeller said.
Late update: Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon emails a statement to TPMDC. He says discussions with centrists, such as they are, are in their earliest stages. "Leading up to tonight's vote, some senators expressed a desire to discuss the public option currently in the Senate bill. Of course, Senator Schumer did not rule that out. But no such talks have yet taken place, and there is not any compromise at hand beyond what Leader Reid has already inserted into the bill. Senator Schumer remains a strong proponent of the opt-out, level playing field public option."