Progressives To Target Durbin After He Suggests Whipping Against Public Option


The group leading a renewed push for the public option tells TPMDC it’s planning to target Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) for saying yesterday that he may urge Democrats against passing a public option.

Durbin told reporters Wednesday that, in order to get health care passed quickly, leadership may ask Democrats to oppose all amendments — including any with a public option.

“We have to tell people, ‘You just have to swallow hard’ and say that putting an amendment on this is either going to stop it or slow it down, and we just can’t let it happen,” Durbin said, according to Roll Call.Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told Greg Sargent today he’d be willing to introduce the public option amendment. But if Durbin’s comments are any indication, it won’t get very far.

“We have to move this forward. We know the Republicans are likely to offer a lot of amendments, and some of them may be appealing to Democrats, but we have to urge them to stick with the bill,” he said.

That’s upsetting to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is pushing senators to publicly support using reconciliation for a public option. Adam Green, the founder of the PCCC, tells TPMDC he’s about to launch an offensive against Durbin.

“We’re going to make it radioactive for him to whip against the public option,” he said. The PCCC will target Durbin with web videos. It will also, Green said, blast emails to its supporters — specifically the ones whose senators have signed on to the push — asking them to write to their senators and demand they stand their ground.

Durbin recently re-affirmed his his support for the public option.

The PCCC has counted 41 senators in favor of passing the public option, although some of them would only declare their support with several caveats. Many senators, as well as the White House, believe there aren’t enough votes for it.

The group has in the past used a TV ad to go after President Obama over his lackluster support for a public option.