Obama To Durbin: Pass A Bill–Any Bill–I’ll Work It Out In Conference

Dick Durbin (D-IL), the number two Democrat in the Senate, says President Obama wants to move forward with some form of health care bill quickly, and then fight the fight over particulars in negotiations with the House of Representatives.

“We’re negotiating with three Republican senators to try to get this bill through the Senate, and they do not support the public option,” Durbin told small businessmen in Illinois.

So we are trying to walk this tightrope to get this bill through. The House [of Representatives] is likely to include it. The Senate may not. Then we go into conference committee and President Obama has to roll up his sleeves and see if he can bring us all together. And when I’ve spoken to him about this a couple times, all he’s said is: ‘Get me to a conference committee. Let me bring these folks into a room, and let me work and get it done.’

That statement’s obviously vague on a couple levels: Who will lose out on the merits–progressives or conservatives–if Obama can’t “bring us all together”? And how far will Obama stray from his own vision of health care reform if it’s a choice between getting it done and not getting it done?

But it’s also a pretty clear indication that he thinks now is not the right time to settle the dispute between liberal Democrats, and the “gang of six” members of the Senate Finance Committee who are trying to piece together a consensus bill.