Burris: It's Public Option or Nothing

Vows not to vote for a bill without it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2009 8:28 AM CDT
Roland Burris is interviewed by the Associated Press in his Capitol Hill office in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009.    (Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – For Democrats determined to get a health care bill, Sen. Roland Burris is like the house guest who couldn't be refused, won't soon be leaving, and poses a plausible threat of ruining holiday dinner. Suddenly, he can no longer be ignored. Rod Blagojevich's appointee says he'll only vote for a health care bill if it includes a public option—and he won't compromise.

"I would not support a bill that does not have a public option," Burris, 72, tells the AP. "That position will not change." Nor will he vote for compromises, like Olympia Snowe's "triggered" plan, or Tom Carper's state-run version. Democrats will need Burris' vote to crack 60, but leadership isn't talking to him; they've done their best to ignore Burris since grudgingly seating him. Asked if he feels respected or listened to, Burris seems puzzled. "Yes. I'm a senator from Illinois representing 13 million people," he says. "I'm very busy."