Keith Olbermann talks to Sen. Jay Rockefeller about the foot dragging by the Republicans during the amendment process on the health care bill. Rockfeller still intends to try to have a public option included in the final bill. When Keith said it didn't appear that they have the votes to get it passed, Rockeller said "nothing is impossible, and that particularly includes the public option".
I just got off a conference call with Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). They are confident -- very confident -- that health care reform will include a public option.
"The health care bill that is signed into law by the President will have a good, strong, robust public option," Schumer said.
How that will happen remains an open question. But the Senators assured reporters on the call that we're all going to get a taste of their passion and persuasiveness on this issue at the ongoing Senate Finance Committee hearings on Friday.
"I think it's a great idea," Rockefeller said of the public option. "Chuck Schumer thinks it's a great idea. And we're going to be all over it tomorrow."
Schumer said there will be a "full-blown debate" and that "even though the public option might be the underdog in the Senate Finance Committee, don't count it out."
"Tomorrow is the opening day in our big fight," he said.
Reporters tried to press on how, exactly, a public option would make its way out of the Senate Finance Committee, let alone make it to the President's desk. Will a public option amendment be tacked onto the Baucus bill? Will it be added on the Senate floor? How many votes do the Democrats have on a public health insurance option? Will they try to pass it through a 51-Senator reconciliation vote?
Rockefeller responded to TPM's question by saying "I think we have a good shot of getting it out of the Finance Committee."
He continued: "Don't rule it out. Don't fall victim to this feeling that it's not going to happen."
Chuck Schumer appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show and added this:
Schumer: Well tomorrow is really the first day of the fight. It won't be the last. We are going to offer Sen. Rockefeller and myself, two public option amendments and have the Finance Committee vote. Your viewers should know that this is the beginning of the fight because the Finance Committee is more conservative than the Senate as a whole. The Finance Democrats tend to come from rural and redder states. We'll then move to the floor of the Senate where the public option has a better chance than in the Finance Committee and then we'll move to Conference Committee with the House where it has a better chance still because the House has been very strong.
And my prediction is that at the end of the day we will have some form of public option, and a good form of public option in the final bill. Tomorrow's fight to be honest with you is uphill given the membership of the Finance Committee but we want to start the debate because the more the public hears what the public option really is the more they like it.