The Senate Progressive Block
Jason Rosenbaum has the news on that secret letter I was talking about yesterday that Senate Democrats were pushing, demanding that Harry Reid include a public option in the bill that comes to the floor. We now have the letter, and it calls for a "robust, Medicare-like" public option, which is right where the House Progressives have drawn the line. The letter has 30 signatures:
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) John D. Rockefeller (D-WV)
Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT)
Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) Tom Udall (D-NM)
Kristen E. Gillibrand (D-NY) Roland W. Burris (D-IL)
Ron Wyden (D-OR) Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Michael F. Bennet (D-CO) Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Jack Reed (D-RI) Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)
Al Franken (D-MN) Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI)
Edward E. Kaufman (D-DE) Arlen Specter (D-PA)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA) Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Bernard Sanders (I-VT) John F. Kerry (D-MA)
Herb Kohl (D-WI) Paul Kirk (D-MA)
Some VERY interesting names on this list. Michael Bennet. DiFi (!). Arlen Specter. Newest Democrat and former pharma lobbyist Paul Kirk. Ron Wyden.
To be sure, nobody here is saying that they won't vote for a bill without a public option in it. But these would be the main possibilities for such a strategy. And you would only need 11 of these 30 to pull that off. And really, you would only need one, if you're tying it to a 60-vote filibuster-proof hurdle.
Despite the rumors and compromises being floated, it is NOT a given that Harry Reid puts a public option in the merged bill. This show of support by fully 1/2 of the caucus - and with public option supporters who voted it out of committees not on this list, the real number is higher - is very important to reaching that goal.