Democratic leaders are willing to offer her the earth, the moon, and the stars if she will only stay, and not leave them (ital is in original):
Democrats really want this bill to be bipartisan — to the point that they’re giving the Republican a space in the negotiations equivalent to the chairmen of the two relevant committees. Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked if this perk had been negotiated in advance of Snowe’s vote yesterday.
This shifts the room’s balance of power substantially: The negotiations were previously confined to one liberal Democrat and one centrist Democrat. Now they’ll be between one liberal Democrat, one centrist Democrat, and one moderate Republican. In practice, this is likely to mean that Baucus will have something of a trump card against Dodd. If there’s a particularly thorny dispute, and Snowe weighs in strongly alongside Baucus, it’s hard to imagine Reid siding with Dodd, except in the most extraordinary of cases.
Snowe, meanwhile, is making sure Democrats understand that “bipartisan” means “compromise,” and “compromise” means no single-payer no public option no opt-out public option possibly, maybe, “a public option trigger that would implement a government plan only if the private sector fails to provide competition.”
Olympia Snowe doesn’t have the final say, though. According to Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid does:
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) threw down the gauntlet on the public option for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last night. Appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show, Schumer essentially put the fate of the public option in Reid’s hands — saying that while the bill passed Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee doesn’t include a public health insurance option, it’s up to Reid to decide whether to include a public option in the bill that merges the Senate Finance Committee bill with the bills passed by others committees — all of which do include a public option.
“Leader Reid has the option of putting it in the final bill,” Schumer said of the public option. “If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill, then you would need 60 votes to remove it. And there clearly are not 60 votes against the public option. And so we’re urging him to do that, and he’s seriously considering it.”
Schumer said this solution might take some of the heat off conservative Democratic senators like Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Ben Nelson (D-NE), since they wouldn’t have to explicitly vote to put the public option in the bill, but would merely have to support a bill that already included a public option.
“If it’s in the bill, you don’t have to have every Democrat vote for it, because if it’s in the bill, to take it out would take 60 votes,” Schumer said. “So that’s one of the cases, one of those rare moments, where this 60-vote rule which we usually abhor works in our favor.”
Very clever move on Chuck Schumer’s part. I’m sure Harry Reid would have much preferred these private lobbying efforts to remain private, so he could renege with no consequences. He can’t do that now. And he is none too pleased about that:
Speaking to reporters just outside the Senate chamber this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scoffed at the suggestion–articulated last night by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)–that the public option is simply in his hands.
“He would rather say anything so it wasn’t up to him,” Reid said, before departing for a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chris Dodd (D-CT). The four will hold the first meeting about how to shape a health care bill that will soon be introduced on the Senate floor.
Other senators have been significantly less vocal than Schumer (at least in public) with respect to what steps Reid should take to include the public option. I caught up with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and asked him whether he agreed with Schumer. He said, “I’m definitely for the public option, I want it included in the final bill. I’m gonna leave it up to the Majority Leader’s judgment and the vote of the Senate as to when that’s going to take place.”
Good cop, bad cop? We’ll see what happens.