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Senate Public Option Scoreboard — Likely OpponentsLikely Opponents

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

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

Likely Opponents

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

Gordon Dickerson
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Nov 13, 2009

Senator

Stance on Public Option

Stance on Reconciliation

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) “Senator Reid’s bill is appropriate for the season. It’s the same turkey you didn’t like in August, and it’s not going to taste any better on Thanksgiving. It’s still more premiums. It’s still higher taxes. It’s still Medicare cuts. It’s still a 2,000-page bill.” (11/19/2009)

“Thumbing their nose at the American people by ramming through a partisan bill would be the same thing as going to war without asking Congress’ permission. You might technically be able to do it, but you’d pay a terrible price in the next election.” (09/06/2009)

“This would be the ultimate trick to get votes. The reason for the American people rejecting the health care bill so far is because of the tricks. If Democrats try to jam the bill through this strange process to get votes, then they will just be guaranteeing themselves a political kamikaze mission in November.” (02/23/2010)
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) “The more Washington runs the system, the worse it’s gonna be for the American people.” (10/06/2009)

“What I’m hearing all across the country is ‘kill the bill.’” (08/28/2009)

Barrasso said the Senate should only pass legislation like health care bills with 70 or 80 votes. (02/22/2010)
Robert Bennett (R-Utah)

Co-wrote the Wyden-Bennett health reform bill, which restructures the private insurance market without a public option

“If it has a public option in it, even one that is described as a co-op, the answer is: ‘No.’” (08/26/2009) Bennett said that such a provision [reconciliation] to shut out Republicans and jam health care legislation through Congress in a partisan manner is not only a disservice to the American public, but it is not needed to reform health care. (04/29/2009)
Kit Bond (R-Mo.) “I don’t want to see government-controlled co-ops or triggers, anything like that. It’s a gateway drug to a public option.” (09/09/2009)

“The only bipartisan thing about this whole bill is the opposition to the plan.” (09/09/2009)

Sen. Bond has been outspoken about his opposition to reconciliation, equating it to “Chicago politics.” (03/24/2009)
Scott Brown (R-Mass.) “I am opposed to the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress and will vote against it. It will raise taxes, increase government spending and lower the quality of care, especially for elders on Medicare. I support strengthening the existing private market system with policies that will drive down costs and make it easier for people to purchase affordable insurance.” “From the indications we’re getting, [Obama's healthcare proposal is] a regurgitation of the Senate plan and it still calls for a half a trillion (dollars) in Medicare cuts and still will cost over a $1 trillion. If they’re gonna try to do the nuclear option or reconciliation to ram this thing through in a non-bipartisan effort, I think that’s a huge mistake.” (03/03/2010)
Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) “I call on the President and the Congressional leadership to stop the current attempts to push massive and expensive health care reform through Congress.” (08/27/2009) “I urge the Democrats in Congress not to use reconciliation to force through health care reform. This won’t work and will anger the nation even more.” (02/22/2010)
Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) “I do not support a government-run health care program. I believe it will kill private insurance.” (09/09/2009)

“We will see if Congress and the Obama administration … continue to ignore the will of the people in an effort to force their liberal agenda down our throats.” (09/09/2009)

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Richard Burr (R-N.C.) “We’re leaving to an elected official the ability at any point now, five years from now ten years from now, to write the rules on mandates in a way the private sector couldn’t compete with the government option, that’s just not a smart thing for the congress to do.” (08/14/2009)

“I am willing to entertain [the co-op proposal.] However, if these co-ops are financed or run by the federal government, then they are no better than the public option and are just federally run health care under a different name.” (08/18/2009)

Burr explained reconciliation would jeopardize the legislation. “[I]f Sen. Reid chooses to shortcut what I think is the historical protection that we need to make sure exists — and that’s that policy is not considered unless 60 senators agree — that would be a grave mistake for this bill,” Burr said. (09/22/2010)
Tom Carper (D-Del.) “I think at the end of the day there will be a national plan probably put together not by the federal government but by a non-profit board with some seed money from the federal government that states would initially participate in because of lack of affordability. The question is should there be an opportunity for states to opt out later on and if so, within a year, within two years, within three years?” (10/22/2009)

“There may not be enough votes to get the bill [that includes Reid's version of the public option] off the floor and get us to conference.” (10/27/2009)

Sen. Carper’s spokeswoman says he does not support using reconciliation for a public option. (02/23/2010)
Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) “The president is not being specific in putting forward any proposals really, that we talked about last week [at the health care summit]. What we’re basically looking at is him saying that we’re going to put the Senate bill in place. The cost of it is going to be exactly the same, over a trillion dollars. It’s going to be in the form of new taxes for the American people.” (03/04/2010)

“Every individual has the right to choose their own doctor and that’s why I’m opposed to universal health care.” (09/01/2009)

-
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)

“Is it efficient to care for the people in Northwest Arkansas by sending money to Washington … or could you as a community figure out a way to do it better, which by the way is constitutional? … There is no compassion in any government program.” (09/06/2009)

“We have a government-centered approach that is already failing instead of a patient-centered approach. And we ought to be concerned about patients, not the government.” (11/22/2009)

“Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi now have a choice. They can continue to work with Republicans on the areas of agreement the president outlined and produce real health care reform for the American people. Or, they can attempt an all-or-nothing reconciliation strategy based on the deeply flawed Senate and House bills and most likely accomplish nothing.” (02/02/2010)
Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) “I don’t think the Senate is going to endorse the House work product.” (08/2009) -
Susan Collins (R-Maine) “The bitter rhetoric and partisan gridlock of the past year on health care legislation has obscured a very important fact: There are many health care reforms that have overwhelming support in both parties,” Collins said in a prepared statement. (02/27/2010)

“I’m opposed to a Washington-run public option. I believe it would cause many people to lose health insurance that they’re currently happy with now, and that’s contrary to the assurances that advocates of the public option have been giving. I’m also concerned about the cost and control issue.” (09/08/2009)

“I made very clear that I could not support the bill as it’s currently drafted, and that there would have to be substantial changes, but I certainly hope that that will be possible.” (12/01/2009)

“I’m not a fan [of Tom Carper's triggered co-op].” (12/01/2009)

-
Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) “I don’t think a public option will be part of a final package. While I think certainly the president will mention that in a speech Wednesday night, I do not think it’s going to be a part of a plan that passes unless it’s done through reconciliation, which to me is not the route to go.” (09/08/2009) -
John Cornyn (R-Texas) “The Republicans do have constructive ideas to solve this problem. Our position hasn’t been solely to stop the bill; it’s been to shelve the bill and start over.” (03/08/2010)

“There is nothing ‘optional’ about a public option. The so-called ‘public option’ is nothing more than a Trojan horse that will ultimately result in government-run health care. This partisan proposal will also raise premiums on those with private insurance, raise taxes on the middle class, and cut Medicare benefits for seniors.” (10/26/2009)

“If you’re the White House, why in the world would you care whether reconciliation passes at all once you’ve got the House to pass the Senate bill, once the president signs that bill into law. There is no rationale other than keeping promises to the House members.” (03/08/2010)
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) “The battle in our country over whether to shift to a government option in health care is an overarching one that we have to get past.” (09/09/2009) -
Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) “If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” (07/17/2009)

“Any Republican now that helps them pass a bill is helping them pass a government takeover of health care.” (08/17/2009)

“I think clearly the majority leader has his [Parliamentarian Alan Frumin's] ear, and I’ve got concerns. I think if he does not look at that very careful — reconciliation is supposed to be very narrowly defined, large legislative things don’t seem to fit in those parameters — I would think that reconciliation would make or break the perception of his objectivity.” (03/03/2010)
John Ensign (R-Nev.) “[A public option] will destroy, I believe, and most believe, that it will destroy the private insurance system.” (09/25/2009)

“I hope people don’t politicize Sen. Kennedy’s death and use it to pass a bill.” (09/25/2009)

Sen. Ensign warned that Democrats would try to push health care reform through by reconciliation, calling it “outrageous.” (02/24/2010)
Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)

Ranking member of the HELP Committee

“For millions of Americans, the government-run plan would turn into a bureaucratic nightmare.” (08/19/2009)

“I can count votes, and I know that a government-run plan will not pass in the Senate.” (08/19/2009)

“We need to get the threat of reconciliation off the table. It’s a process that was meant to keep government spending in check – not provide a back door for Congress to saddle the taxpayers with trillions of dollars in new federal spending and debt that will cost jobs and slow economic growth for generations to come.” (02/22/2010)
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “My belief is that no private-sector entity can survive over a long period of time competing against the government.” (08/08/2009)

“The public option has been roundly rejected by the public. The public is smart.” (10/26/2009)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that if Democrats decide to use reconciliation to pass health care reform, it would be the “end of the minority rights in the Senate as we know it,” and the result “would be the loss of the United States Senate as a real viable institution. It will become the House.” (02/23/2010)
Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)

Ranking member of the Finance Committee

“The simple truth is that I am and always have been opposed to the Obama Administration’s plans to nationalize health care. Period.” (08/2009)

“I see [co-ops] as an opportunity to enhance health-care competition — just as cooperatives do in other areas of the economy.” (08/18/2009)

“Reconciliation has never been used . . to redirect one-sixth of the American economy,” said Chuck Grassley of Iowa. (03/04/2010)
Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) “This 2,074 page, $2.5 trillion bill is a massive expansion of the federal government and not the right cure for our nation’s broken health care system.” (11/30/2009)

“We shouldn’t push [those 170 million Americans who already have health insurance] into a public plan by creating a system which basically disincentivizes their employers to give them health care.” (10/28/2009)

“A public plan is essentially a stalking horse for a single-payer plan. It is more than the camel’s nose under the tent. It is the camel’s neck, and probably front legs, under the tent. There is no way the private sector will be able to compete.” (09/12/2009)

you’re in the House and you’re saying, ‘Well, I’m going to vote for this because I’m going to get a reconciliation bill,’ I would think twice about that. First because, procedurally, it’s going to be hard to put a reconciliation bill through the Senate. Second because I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of energy to do it, from the president or his people. In my opinion, reconciliation is an exercise for buying votes, which, once they have the votes they really don’t need it. (03/04/2010)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) “They’re trying to put through a government plan, one way or the other, that will have everything run right out of Washington. I mean, look, it just doesn’t work that way.” (09/15/2009)

“Sooner or later they’re going to do away with the private insurance market, which would be a catastrophe.” (08/26/2009)

“It is going to be outright war and it should be, because it would be such an abuse of the reconciliation rules.” (01/31/2010)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) -
James Inhofe (R-Okla.) “Many in Washington believe the answer rests in a bureaucratically managed, one-size-fits-all, government health care program that includes what advocates call a ‘public option’. I strongly disagree and reject this approach.” (08/11/2009)

“We can stall it. And that’s going to be a huge gain for those of us who want to turn this thing over in the 2010 election.” (07/22/2009)

-
Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) “I am not going to be a part of mortgaging my kids’ futures by driving Americans to a government-run health care system we can’t afford.” (09/10/2009) “Either way, whether it’s a Republican or a Democratic effort to pass policy with reconciliation, the general public doesn’t like it.” (03/07/2010)
Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) “President Obama continues to press for a government-run option and I cannot support that.” (09/11/2009) Reconciliation “bypasses thoughtful consideration of legislation,” he said. “Let’s just take reconciliation off the table,” the Republican senator said, and seek bipartisan agreement through discussion and debate. (02/25/2010)
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

Senate Minority Whip

“There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill. … No matter how bad things are, Congress can always make things worse.” (08/18/2009)

“I agree that states should have the option to opt in. But I don’t even know if they have this provision written yet. I certainly haven’t seen it.” (10/27/2009)

Kyl’s office (in response to preceding quote): “Today’s report in The Hill regarding Senator Kyl’s position on an ‘opt-in’ for a government insurance plan is inaccurate. His statement was taken completely out of context, and he, along with every member of our caucus, does not support a government-run insurance plan in any form. Everyone who has been following this debate should know Senator Kyl has been leading the charge against a government takeover of our health-care system.” (10/28/2009)

“Reconciliation is one of the Democrats’ last, best options at this point. I think politically we are prepared to pounce on that. Reconciliation would be an ultimate abuse of the process, circumventing the American people after they have spoken.” (03/01/2010)
George LeMieux (R-Fla.) “Cutting half a trillion dollars from Medicare (over 10 years) is not budget neutral. Shifting costs to the states for increases in Medicaid is not responsible. And taxing medical and life-savings devices – which will increase, not decrease the cost of health care — is not reform!” (10/21/2009)

LeMieux stressed that he had ‘serious concerns’ about the latest health care reform proposal being pushed by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, ”specifically highlighting $400 billion in cuts to Medicare funding.” (09/17/2009)

Opposed to using reconciliation for health care legislation.
Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) “You’ve got to take out the Medicare buy-in. You’ve got to forget about the public option.” (12/13/2009)

Feels “very strongly” about his opposition towards any kind of “public option” or “trigger”: “I’m going to be stubborn on this. … The answer is no.” (11/24/2009)

“If the public option is still in there, the only resort we have is to say no at the end to reporting the bill off the floor.” (11/22/2009)

“If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote, because I believe the debt can break America and send us into a recession that’s worse than the one we’re fighting our way out of today.” (11/08/2009)

“I’d hate to see us rush to push it through by the so-called reconciliation process. “I think we ought to take two, three, four weeks and do something on a bipartisan basis.” (03/02/2010)
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) “Creating another government-funded option is not where we’re going. We don’t need to go there. A government-funded option is something that I think is not the way to go.”(10/27/2009)

“Individuals should be able to choose from a range of quality health insurance plans. Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals of a public plan.” (11/23/2009)

“I will not vote in favor of the proposal that has been introduced by Leader Reid as it is written … I do not support the creation of a so-called robust government administered public plan I’ve already alerted the Leader and I’m promising my colleagues that I’m prepared to vote against moving to the next stage of consideration as long as a government-run public option is included.” (11/21/2009)

“I am opposed to and will fight against any attempts to push through changes to the Senate health insurance reform legislation by using budget reconciliation tactics that would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes to our original bill with 51 votes. I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans.” (01/26/2010)
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) “I would advise the president that the bringing up of the health care situation in the midst of recession … was a mistake. Let’s clear the deck and try it again next year or in subsequent times.” (08/23/2009) -
John McCain (R-Ariz.) “A public option, which is really a government option, is not something that will do anything but lead to a government takeover of health care in America.” (08/25/2009) “[Reconciliation] would set a terrible precedent and it would blow up the Senate.” (08/26/2009)
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Senate Minority Leader

“I think if you have any kind of government insurance program, you’re going to be stuck with it and it will lead us in the direction of the European style, you know, sort of British-style, single payer, government run system. And those systems are known for delays, denial of care and, you know, if your particular malady doesn’t fit the government regulation, you don’t get the medication.” (10/29/2009)

“A government takeover on the installment plan — or a ‘trigger’ as some are calling it — is still a government takeover.” (09/09/2009)

“Using reconciliation would be an acknowledgment that there is bipartisan opposition to their bill, another in a series of backroom deals, and the clearest signal yet that they’ve decided to completely ignore the American people.” (02/20/2010)
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) “I am not one of those who believes that the best course of action is just to kill this thing. … I think it’s gonna have to be scaled down. (08/20/2009)

“I think that conventional wisdom is that a public option doesn’t have the support, and will not pass through [the Finance] committee.” (09/11/2009)

“We should not utilize a parliamentary maneuver that would allow the Democratic leadership to circumvent the will of the American people. While reconciliation is a process that has been used by both parties over the years, it has not been used for such a sweeping piece of legislation that comprises 17 percent of the nation’s economy.” (03/03/2010)
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) Without an anti-abortion amendment, “I will not vote to take [the bill] off the floor.” (12/3/2009)

“We could negotiate a public option of some sort that I might look at, but I don’t want a big government, Washington-run operation that would undermine the [...] private insurance that 200 million Americans now have.” (11/22/2009)

“If there’s no public option, perhaps some of the problem [with abortion coverage] goes away.” (11/19/2009)

“What was interesting in the poll numbers that I saw, that while there’s support for public option generally, generically, when you start talking about it specifically as it relates to states being able to opt out or opt in, have their own, the support overwhelmingly goes up to 76 percent.(10/20/2009)

“If Republican colleagues are serious about fixing our health care system and want to avoid using the reconciliation process, then I will go to the negotiating table with them. If Republican senators join me at the table, we can use bipartisanship for health reform rather than use reconciliation, which needs only 50 votes to approve legislation. Reconciliation has never been my preference for moving legislation.” (01/28/2010)

Opposed to reconciliation.

Jim Risch (R-Idaho) “Private entities cannot compete with a government entity.” (09/09/2009)

“The President continues to promote the false choice of a complete government takeover or doing nothing.” (09/09/2009)

-
Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) “[The public option] won’t work. It hasn’t worked in other countries.” (06/08/2009) -
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) “I do think it continues to decline in public support. I can’t imagine that the public option could be a part of that, part of a final bill, but it’s possible. … I think if the will of the American people continues to be expressed, I think that every week that goes by, the threat of a major government takeover is less and less.” (09/03/2009) -
Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) “As long as the president continues to pursue a government-run plan, I remain in strong opposition.” (09/10/2009) precedent for future partisan majorities to eliminate thoughtful debate and pass reckless and partisan legislation by any means necessary. Should this legislation pass, especially by these means, it will be a day our country will long regret.” (03/03/2010)
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

Leading advocate of a “trigger” system

“I also support a public plan which must be available from day one — in any state where private plans fail to ensure guaranteed affordable coverage.” (07/22/2009)

“I don’t support [an opt-out public option]. … I’ve said, I’m against a public option. … It would be difficult [to vote for cloture on a public option].” (10/22/2009)

“I am deeply disappointed with the Majority Leader’s decision to include a public option as the focus of the legislation. I still believe that a fallback, safety net plan, to be triggered and available immediately in states where insurance companies fail to offer plans that meet the standards of affordability, could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate.” (10/26/2009)

“I don’t see reconciliation as acceptable. I think that that’s a huge mistake, frankly — tactically, strategically and in terms of what is in the best interest of the American people. And I think that that would be a very important step, and gesture, if the president and the leadership removed it, rather than having that as sort of wielding this power, you know, by using an arbitrary tool for purposes that have not been heretofore used.” (02/23/2010)
John Thune (R-S.D.) “We should be providing incentives to states to reform their insurance markets and expand coverage in ways that work best for them, not a one-size-fits-all program imposed by the federal government.” (08/23/2009) Sen. John Thune said using reconciliation for a big revamp of one-sixth of the US economy without any bipartisan support was ”unprecedented”. “It’s not a done deal,” he said. He hoped “reasonable Democrats” would join Republicans to kill off the legislation. (03/04/2010)
David Vitter (R-La.) “Any public option would eventually become the dominant option, and I’m afraid eventually the only option.” (08/25/2009) “Well, the president talked a great deal about bipartisanship during the health care summit last week, but it’s now clear that was just to distract attention away from his purely partisan strategy – forcing Obamacare down our throats using the unprecedented reconciliation process.” (03/03/2010)
George Voinovich (R-Ohio) “A bureaucratic Washington-run government plan is not the answer. … The last thing we need to do is pass legislation that would expand the government’s role in health care or create new entitlement program without first controlling costs.” (07/23/2009) -
Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) “We’re being offered the promise of genuine competition between the public plan and private insurance plans. When, in fact, the purpose is to switch Americans to a European-style single payer plan down the road.” (08/03/2009) “We’ve never done major [policy] changes, such as changing one-sixth of the economy – which is health care – by the reconciliation or fifty-one vote method.” (02/24/2010)
For senators who are on the fence, [click here](/67592/senate-public-option-scoreboard-on-the-fence).

For likely supporters, click here.

Gordon Dickerson | Gordon Dickerson is the founder of J.C.H, a one-person company that helps employers with resumes, cover letters, bios, LinkedIn profiles, and other employment-related documents. John also provides career coaching and advice on how to follow up on resumes, and he will also link clients with recruiters in their field. Gordon 's inherent passion for working with people and counseling them on their careers led him to extend his services to include career coaching, which he has been happily doing since 2008.

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