Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tom Harkin on the Public Option

The Senate Finance Committee killed the public option. Tom Harkin tells Ed Schultz the final bill will have the public option.

HARKIN: I believe that when we merge these two bills, we will have a public option in there that we will take to the floor of the Senate and we're going to pass it.

SCHULTZ: Well, okay, so despite what happened in the Senate Finance Committee today, you think you've got the votes to get a public option coming out of the Senate? Cause I'm not so worried about the House anymore and I think the American people, I mean, this is gonna be reported, all the talking heads are gonna say, "Hey, public option is dead." I need to have some confidence tonight with you, Senator Harkin, that you think you can get these votes out of the Senate.

HARKIN: Well here's one thing I will guarantee you, Ed, and I will tell you again as I've told you before -- we will have a bill on the President's desk before Christmas and it will have a public option.

SCHULTZ: Well that's what the American people want to hear. Now ...

HARKIN: I know it and most of the doctors want it, 73% of the doctors polled want a public option, uh, sixty-some percent of the American people want a public option and the vast majority of Democrats, over fifty in the United States Senate, also want a public option.

SCHULTZ: Okay now, are you going to have to go reconciliation? You're not going to get sixty at this point are you?

HARKIN: Well, I wouldn't give up on that yet. I still think that we can get sixty votes to bring the bill on the floor of the Senate. And then we'll have amendments and then we'll have, probably have to have a cloture on the bill to bring it to a close. Now that will be the tough vote. I still believe that we can get the sixty votes for that.

SCHULTZ: Okay, what about ...

HARKIN: But if we don't, Ed, if we don't, we're going to go to reconciliation. As I said to you, and as I say to the American people, we will have this bill on the President's desk by Christmas, one way or the other.

Reconciliation is only used on bills that involve the federal budget. Health care definately falls into that category. The question is will Harry Reid push for reconciliation? President Bill Clinton attempted to use reconciliation to pass health care reform. Sen. Robert Byrd stopped Clinton. The Byrd Rule was created to limit reconciliation only to deficit reduction.

* a provision that mitigates direct effects attributable to a second provision which changes outlays or revenue when the provisions together produce a net reduction in outlays;

* the provision will result in a substantial reduction in outlays or a substantial increase in revenues during fiscal years after the fiscal years covered by the reconciliation bill;

* the provision will likely reduce outlays or increase revenues based on actions that are not currently projected by CBO for scorekeeping purposes; or

* such provision will likely produce significant reduction in outlays or increase in revenues, but due to insufficient data such reduction or increase cannot be reliably estimated.

Republicans will be looking for potential ways a public option bill would violate the Byrd rule. If a violation is found then 60 votes will be needed to a filibuster.

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