Reid Dismisses Schumer’s Insistence That Public Option Is In His Hands

Speaking to reporters just outside the Senate chamber this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scoffed at the suggestion–articulated last night by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)–that the public option is simply in his hands.

“He would rather say anything so it wasn’t up to him,” Reid said, before departing for a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chris Dodd (D-CT). The four will hold the first meeting about how to shape a health care bill that will soon be introduced on the Senate floor.

Other senators have been significantly less vocal than Schumer (at least in public) with respect to what steps Reid should take to include the public option. I caught up with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and asked him whether he agreed with Schumer. He said, “I’m definitely for the public option, I want it included in the final bill. I’m gonna leave it up to the Majority Leader’s judgment and the vote of the Senate as to when that’s going to take place.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) was less forthcoming. “I never second guess the leadership on what kind of procedural moves they make,” he said. “I just vote as I choose. I don’t comment on their decisions.”