Over the past week, senators — 18 so far — have been signing on to a letter urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass a public option using reconciliation. Today, Reid finally spoke on the matter, releasing a statement through a spokesman.
“If a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care, Senator Reid will work with the White House, House and members of his caucus in an effort to craft a public option that can overcome procedural obstacles and secure enough votes,” the statement reads.
Such an effort would need at least 50 senators on board to be successful. The letter got a boost yesterday when Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the third-ranking member of Senate leadership, signed on.
Reid’s statement also pointed out that Reid is a supporter of the public option.
“Senator Reid has always and continues to support the public option as a way to drive down costs and create competition. That is why he included the measure in his original health care proposal.”
Late update: A leadership aide tells TPMDC that several hurdles have to be cleared before leaders try to use reconciliation.
One, they’d need the votes. Two, they’d need the votes in the House — where a bill would have to pass first. Three, in order to get those votes, they’d need a big push from the White House which, the aide says, has been “circumspect.” And finally, the parliamentarian would have to approve the use of reconciliation, a tool for budget matters, for passing a health care measure.
Later Update: Reid told his local press this weekend that reconciliation is a go.