After announcing her intent to support a health care debate this afternoon, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) told reporters she thinks Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will soon have to choose between a triggered public option and no health care bill. She also says Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)–the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate one of its most fierce and vocal public option advocates–has been tasked as a point man on the issue.
“I believe it’s going to be very clear at some point very soon that there are not 60 votes for the current provision in the bill, and that the leader and the leadership are going to have to make a decision and I trust that they will figure out how to do that,” Landrieu told reporters.
Landrieu has been in negotiations with a number of centrist senators about a compromise that would eliminate the public option, except in states where insurance remains unaffordable. Interestingly, though, Schumer is playing a big role in that process.“Senator Schumer’s working on that. He’s sort of been tasked as one of the point people,” she told me. “He’s been tagged as one of the point people to help negotiate that.”
Schumer’s involvement as a liaison between liberal and conservative Democrats puts the trigger issue in a new light. When Reid announced that he’d include his opt-out plan in the health care bill in lieu of triggers, many, including trigger-author Olympia Snowe, believed the compromise to be dead. But it now appears to be one of the central points of discussion between leadership and conservative Democrats as they try to find 60 votes for a reform bill.