In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) put the responsibility for getting a public option squarely on Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s shoulders.
HUNT: Well, let me ask you about that, because it would appear there are not the votes for the kind of public option that you’ve advocated and maybe even that Senator Schumer advocated.
Would you be willing to accept the Olympia Snowe proposal of a trigger? You’ve expressed reservations about it in past.
ROCKEFELLER: Harry Reid can put into that mark whatever he wants. And so if he puts in mine – less likely – Chuck Schumer’s – more likely, – if he decides to do that, then it’ll take 60 votes to take it out because it will be in the mark and that’s the genius of that melding of both ways.
Earlier this week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made waves by also preemptively placing blame on Reid should the Senate health care reform bill fail to contain a public option. The message is clear, if the bill brought to the Senate floor by Reid has a public option, there are not the votes to remove it. If Reid, solely in his power as majority leader, chooses to include a public option in the merged bill, it is almost assured that there will be a public option.
Rockefeller and Schumer may be trying to publicly put pressure on Reid to include the public option, or preparing to their explaination to supporters on why they failed to secure a public option. Most likely, it is a combination of the two. Regardless, Harry Reid is facing a tough choice. If he kills the public option to please a handful of conservative Democratic senators, he will face a tough election being branded as the man who singlehandedly killed the public option.