In the wake of last week's "bipartisan summit" -- which proved that no Republicans in Congress will vote for health care reform -- an avalanche of Democratic senators are announcing today that they will vote YES for the public health insurance option if it is brought up in "reconciliation."
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are the latest to announce their support, raising the number of senators on record from 0 to 30 in under 2 weeks.
The below statements were released to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), Democracy for America, and Credo Action -- three groups who have been organizing thousands of Americans daily on this issue and who gathered over 200,000 signatures on a petition telling Congress that Americans want a good bill with a public option over a "bipartisan" bill without one. A tally of senators supporting the public option in reconciliation is at WhipCongress.com.
DICK DURBIN (D-IL):
Durbin Communications Director Joe Shoemaker: "Sen. Durbin has long been a supporter of the public option. I don't know whether the votes exist in the Senate right now, but if the House version of the public option came up for a vote in reconciliation Sen. Durbin would vote yes."
PATTY MURRAY (D-WA):
"I've been consistently supportive of a public option so that Washington's families and businesses have choices in their health care options and so insurance companies are finally forced to compete for the business of the American people. Nothing has changed that support. I don't know whether the votes exist in the Senate right now, but if the public option came up for a vote as we move ahead with reform, including under reconciliation, I would vote yes."
JEFF BINGAMAN (D-NM):
"I have long been a supporter of the public option, and I have voted for it every time it has come before the Senate. I drafted the public option provision in the HELP Committee and co-sponsored the public option amendment in the Finance Committee. If the public option came up for a vote in reconciliation I would vote yes."
BEN CARDIN (D-MD):
Cardin spokesperson Sue Walitsky: "Senator Cardin has always been a strong supporter of the public option. As a member of the Budget Committee, he has always considered reconciliation a viable option for passing health care reform. If there is a vote in reconciliation on the House public option, Senator Cardin would vote yes."
AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN):
"I support the House bill version of the public option which is based on negotiated rates, and if that came up for a vote in reconciliation I would vote yes. I do not support a public option based on Medicare rates because it exacerbates geographic disparities that already hurt Minnesota."
Reid spokesperson Rodell Mollineau: "Senator Reid has always and continues to support the public option as a way to drive down costs and create competition...If a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care, Senator Reid will work with the White House, the House, and members of his caucus in an effort to craft a public option that can overcome procedural obstacles and secure enough votes."
We are finding out who our real friends are. These senators deserve praise for embracing the will of the people. Polls show that voters in state after state overwhelmingly want the public option -- and progressives will keep pushing others senators to take a stand until 50 votes are reached.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee will spend thousands of dollars this week on an online ad campaign in the states of at least 10 senators who should be for the public option but have refused to issue a statement so far, reaching at least 1 million people online.
First up: Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa -- and we'll soon be naming more. Jon Stewart lampooned Harkin last week for previously saying, "I'd say right now we have well over 55 votes for a public option, but we need 60" -- while now shrugging his shoulders and saying not even 50 exist.
Harkin also claimed on MSNBC that nobody has fought harder for the public option than him. I've been a longtime Harkin fan, but at this point, that claim is laughable. I can name at least 30 senators who have fought harder than Harkin, with more likely to come.