Report: Reid thinks he can pass public option

The majority leader reportedly believes he can round up enough votes to defeat a filibuster

By Alex Koppelman
Published October 23, 2009 1:05AM (UTC)
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If a report from ABC News' Jonathan Karl is accurate, progressives have something to celebrate. In a post on The Note Thursday afternoon, Karl wrote, "Democratic sources tell me that [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid – after a series of meetings with Democratic moderates – has concluded he can pass a bill with a public option."

As Karl notes, that's not because those moderate Democrats have come around on the idea of voting for a bill that includes a public option. What Reid reportedly thinks is that he can get those senators to stick with their party and vote against a Republican filibuster, providing the 60 votes needed to win that procedural vote.


That's encouraging news for liberals, but it's probably not wise to jump to any conclusions yet. Remember that it was just yesterday that Reid lost a vote he believed he could win on Medicare payments for doctors -- he thought he had 27 Republican votes, courtesy of the American Medical Association, but as it turned out, he didn't have any.

Plus, Greg Sargent writes that he spoke with an unnamed "senior Senate aide" who denied karl's report, saying of Reid, "He has not concluded anything yet. But he is more optimistic."

Finally, remember: The Senate Democratic Caucus currently has 60 members, and that includes two independents, Connecticut's Joe Lieberman and Vermont's Bernie Sanders. Sanders is all but certain to favor a public option, as long as it's robust enough for his taste, but Lieberman seems like a real wild card. People who are actually Democrats might vote to defeat the filibuster figuring that having an angry base and a weakened president would hurt them politically, but that calculus doesn't apply to Lieberman the same way.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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