Breaking his silence today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters that Democrats won't hesitate to pass reform legislation as part of October's filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill--if, that is, Max Baucus and Senate Finance Committee negotiators don't come to agreement on a bipartisan package before their new September 15 deadline. Schumer said he wants a bipartisan agreement, but if that proves impossible, "it is not going to stop us from moving forward with health care."
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"[W]e will have contingencies in place," Schumer said "Health reform is just too important to let this window pass by."
Schumer's been the public face for the idea of creating a public option on a level playing field with private insurers. But he's also the chairman of the Rules Committee, and in that regard his affirmation of the reconciliation process should carry a great deal of weight.
Still, he says, he'd prefer a bipartisan solution. And on the question of those negotiations, Schumer says that despite the fact that the Senate Finance Committee is likely to endorse a co-op system instead of a public option, he's confident that the final bill will contain the latter.