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Senate Public Option Scoreboard — On the FenceOn the Fence

On the Fence Likely Supporters Likely Opponents 17 38 45 On the Fence Senator Stance on Public Option Stance on

Anita Barnes
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Nov 13, 2009
On the Fence Likely Supporters Likely Opponents
17 38 45

On the Fence

On the Fence Likely Supporters Likely Opponents 17 38 45 On the Fence Senator Stance on Public Option Stance on

Anita Barnes
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Nov 13, 2009


Stance on Public Option

Stance on Reconciliation

Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

Finance Committee chairman

“[T]he Senate health reform legislation is a balanced, fiscally-responsible package that will deliver the real reform that American families, businesses and the economy need. The Senate bill is fully paid for, won’t add a dime to the federal deficit and helps pay down the national debt,” said Baucus. “It ensures choice for consumers and increases competition in the market. … The American people are counting on us to act, so we must continue the hard work and compromise it took to reach this point until we deliver a bill to the President’s desk.” (11/18/2009)

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I just really don’t know [if a public plan can pass].”

“I want a public option, too!” (08/24/09)

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he believes the House would need to pass the Senate bill before considering the reconciliation bill with fixes. “The general rule is, if there is reconciliation, you have to amend something that is passed. You can’t amend nothing,” Baucus said Friday. “We are in unchartered water here. This is fraught with complications.” (02/26/2010)
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) “Sen. Bayh told us it is extraordinarily unlikely that he would filibuster health reform. He said there is nothing in the bill he is aware of now that would cause him to vote to filibuster and he said that he currently ‘can’t think of a set of circumstances’ under which he would vote against cloture.” (10/29/2009)

“How you do it isn’t quite as important as the fact that you do it.” (09/10/2009)

“Some people argue that we should vote to go forward on a bill even if we don’t like it. [...] I’d like to move forward, but some of that’s going to depend on is it fiscally responsible.” (10/28/2009)

Democrat Evan Bayh (Ind.), who as recently as January had said using reconciliation was “ill-advised,” on Thursday told National Public Radio “it may be that that has to be ultimately resorted to because something to improve healthcare is better than nothing.” (02/18/2010)
Mark Begich (D-Alaska) “I’m not going to let the bill live or die on that single item.” (11/23/2009)

“Some people call it a public option, some people call it an exchange, some people call it a co-op. Right now, to be honest, there are not 60 votes for any of those three.” (10/06/2009)“I guess I don‘t want to put the word ‘public option.’ What I‘d rather say is that there‘s going to be some mechanism, I guess, at the end of the day to ensure that insurance companies are held accountable. … What I don‘t want to have happen is that the bill lives or dies by [the public option].” (09/10/2009)

Deputy press secretary Max Croes: “Up to this point, the senator [Begich] has not stated a position on any proposals.” (02/20/2010)
Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) “Let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear [Ted Kennedy's] name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.” (08/26/2009) Mr. Byrd is not [opposed to reconciliation], “if it’s done right,” a spokesman said. (02/24/2010)
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) “I think all of us have recognized throughout that there are three things” — abortion, illegal immigration and the public option — “that could really bring this down.” (11/10/2009)

“I’ve got to see [Reid's 'opt out' proposal] in writing and have scores before I reach any judgment.” (10/27/2009)

“A public option tied to Medicare levels of reimbursement is a non-starter for me because I represent North Dakota.” (10/13/2009)

“If the House passed the Senate bill, could reconciliation, that process, be used to fix things that might be improved upon? Yes. Would I support it? I can’t know that without knowing what would be included in the package.” (01/20/2010)
Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

Presided over HELP Committee bill’s passage in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) absence

“I don’t know if we have the votes to pass a strong public health care option. […] What I do know is that I plan to fight hard to convince my colleagues on the committee and in the full Senate that we need a public option.” (06/19/2009) Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) office released a statement today that reiterates the senator’s support for a public option for insurance coverage but doesn’t touch the issue of whether he’d like to see the proposal passed using reconciliation. (02/18/2010)
Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) “I have responded, I guess, 20 times that I support the public option. So, you’re asking hypotheticals about how it would come up. If somebody did a public option and said we’re going to do Medicare rates, I probably wouldn’t support that.” (03/09/2010)

“Yes I do [support a public option].” (08/21/2009)

“First of all, I think it’s important that people who are satisfied with the health plan they have know that they can keep that coverage.” (08/21/2009)

Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) “We have crafted a plan that will stabilize health care costs and includes a Community Health Insurance Option, which I support.” (07/02/2009) “My strong preference is to move the bill through regular order. However, if the parties that be are going to misuse these rules, if the Republicans are misuse the rules in order to create these indefinite delays – that we’ve actually seen happen this past week – then I’m going to be open to considering other options.” (03/03/2010)
Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)

Chairman of the HELP Committee

“I hate to say it, but I am not certain we’re going to be able to get a public option in this bill.” (02/24/2010)

“Mark my word — I’m the chairman — it’s going to have a strong public option.” (09/13/2009)

“The vast majority of the Democratic caucus is for the public option that is in the HELP bill. Should the 52 give in to the five, or should the five come along with the majority?” (10/16/2009)

A spokeswoman for Harkin would not comment on the idea of using reconciliation, saying only that the senator “has always strongly supported the public option and will continue to fight for comprehensive health care reform.” (02/17/2010)
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) “A public option would simply be a government insurance plan that people could choose if they liked it better than the private insurance plans available to them. Americans who are not offered insurance through their employer or cannot afford private insurance plans need an affordable option.” “Some say reconciliation is a backroom tactic to pass controversial measures and is a change in Senate procedure. Nothing could be further from the truth.” (03/11/2010)
Mary Landrieu (D-La.) “I have leverage now, I’m using it to the best of my ability, I’m going to use it on the Senate floor.” (11/20/2009)

“The public option has been shaped 100 percent better than when it started out. So, it’s already shaped to be a public option that is supported by premiums.” (11/04/2009)

“We’re not trying to be Republicans…but we do believe in the free market.” (10/23/2009)

“I am pressing to get a government-run, taxpayer-supported public option out of the bill. I want to rely on a reformed private marketplace — not the current wasteful, abusive, unaffordable private market.’’ (10/22/2009)

“I’m not right now inclined to support any filibuster.” (10/20/2009)

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a crucial swing vote who opposed the use of reconciliation in the early stages of last year’s health-care debate, said she is comfortable using the procedure to advance a narrower package of changes to the legislation. “The general feeling in our caucus is we’ve worked very hard, this is a very reasonable, general approach to health-care reform, that the status quo is wholly unacceptable, and that we’re hoping to move forward,” Landrieu said Tuesday. (03/02/2010)

“I’m not for using reconciliation for healthcare — I’m just not. If we couldn’t get a bill through the Congress that had broad support, I said we shouldn’t have a bill.” (02/03/2010)

Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) “I’ll vote for the public option. But I’m focused on these deficit costs, on how can we reconfigure the way we pay for health care in a way that, long term, will begin to have an impact on these deficits that are really going to threaten the security of our nation in the next 10 to 20 years, if we don’t get serious about it.” (10/25/2009)

“I think there’s a chance that we’ll have some kind of public option. But it probably will be a very moderate program that will be severely limited in terms of its ability to grow … and who can access it.” (10/05/2009)

“I can’t support a bill that will allow the public option to become the public mandate.” (08/31/2009)

“If it’s constrained, I’d vote yes.” (08/31/2009)

A staffer for Sen. Claire McCaskill: “She has openly said that she would not make any final decision on reconciliation or anything else until she knows what the package is they’re voting on.” (02/20/2010)
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) “I’m open to a public option. … It depends on how it’s structured on whether I can support it. … I just haven’t decided.” (10/22/2009)

“I like the opt-out provision, at least what I know about it so far.” (10/28/2009)

“I don’t think you’ll see me or any other Democrats [filibuster a health care bill].” (10/15/2009)

“The truth is, I think, for folks who really know what the public option is, they get more comfortable with it. I think originally some folks branded it as just a government takeover of health care and that’s not what it is.” (10/27/2009)

Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) “I believe the inclusion of a strong public plan option in health reform legislation is a must. It is the only proven way to guarantee that all consumers have affordable, meaningful and accountable options available in the health insurance marketplace.” (08/16/2009) “I will continue to support viable options for enacting a robust public plan…I do not oppose reconciliation, and have long made the case for exploring all avenues available to pass health reform.” (02/24/2010)

“I don’t think the timing of [reconciliation] is very good. I’m probably not going to vote for that, although I’m strongly for the public option, because I think it creates, at a time when we really need as much bipartisan[ship] … as possible.” (02/22/2010)

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who called reconciliation a “non-starter” in November, was even more blunt on Friday when asked if he would absolutely oppose the technique now. Rockefeller simply told The Hill, “No.” (02/20/2010)

Jon Tester (D-Mont.) “It depends on how it was designed. I’ve always said to folks, if a public option is designed right, I’d support it.” (03/09/2010)

“We need competition, and if we get a public option that will help Montana. I will support it.” (10/28/2009)

“I don’t need [the public option] either way. I could either support it or not support it. It’s all in the design.” (08/26/2009)

Mark Warner (D-Va.) “It’s not a make or break thing–he wants to see a health reform bill that contains costs, and if it includes a public option…he would vote for it.” (Warner spokesman) (08/24/2009)

“I want to make sure there are some competitive alternatives to the insurance companies. But I’m concerned that simply expanding Medicare and Medicaid without getting the financial incentives right — it’s going to again end up driving up the deficit costs.” (08/24/2009)

Jim Webb (D-Va.) “I will vote to proceed to debate, but I think everyone should see that bill before we start debating it. … If it came down to a public option as opposed to, say, a non-profit insurance programs or those sorts of things, I would support a public option.”

“There is no reason to believe that private insurers alone will meet the public purpose of ensuring coverage for all American at an affordable price for taxpayers.” (06/25/2009)

For likely supporters, [click here](/67593/senate-public-option-scoreboard-likely-supporters).

For likely opponents, click here.

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