Reid Goes for Broke With Public Option Bill

Senate majority leader banks on 60 votes, infuriates Baucus
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2009 7:46 AM CDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with Vice President Joe Biden, right, speaks at the University of Nevada in Reno, Friday, Oct. 16, 2009.   (AP Photo/Scott Sady)
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(Newser) – Harry Reid is preparing to bring a health reform bill that includes a public option to the floor of the Senate, gambling that his 60-member caucus will support the plan if it contains opt-out measures for individual states. The majority leader and other senators met with Barack Obama yesterday to discuss strategy, although the president did not explicitly endorse the approach. Polls show a clear majority supports a public option, and Nancy Pelosi is bringing a bill containing one through the House.

New York's Chuck Schumer and other liberal senators have been pushing for a public option in the first bill; as one Democrat said, "It's better to show some fight." But some moderates—including Democrats Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu, as well as Maine's two Republicans—are reluctant to vote for a public option bill even if it includes opt-outs. Reid is now working with Max Baucus on a final bill, but ABC's Jonathan Karl reports the Montana senator "went to Defcon 1" when informed of the plan.
(Read more Harry Reid stories.)