Breaking News: Sen. Reid On Public Option Negotiations: “We have a broad agreement”

by on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 11:06 pm in Healthcare, Politics

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave a news conference tonight indicating that a compromise of sorts has been reached on the public option between the ten Liberal and Conservative Democrats who’ve been meeting for days to hash something out.  He and the ten Senators are for now keeping the details of their agreement under wraps.  They first will be submitting the proposals to the Congressional Budget Office to be scored (tomorrow morning).

Here’s are Reid’s remarks, as transcribed by the New York Times:

Thanks everyone, for being patient and waiting for us. It goes without saying that this has been kind of a long journey. We have confronted many hurdles and had to take some big steps and a lot of little steps. But tonight we have overcome a real problem that we have had. I think it’s fair to say that the debate at this stage has been portrayed as a very divisive one and many have assumed that people of different perspectives can’t come together. But I think what we were able to work out the last few days, which culminated tonight belays that fact. We have a broad agreement. Now I know that people are going to ask to be given every detail of this.

I have talked 20 minutes ago to Doug Elmendorf. I told the head of the CBO that we were going to send him something tomorrow that he would have to score and the reason I mention that to you, I also went over in some detail about what we were authorized to say about we are going to send him. We know what we are going to send him, we have to write it up in legislative language. And he said the same as when you sent over your merged bill. We have had a rule here for 40 years or however long we have been in existence, if you start talking about the plan and start shipping it around, it will be made public. And we want that not to be the case because we want to know the score before we start giving all the details even to our own members.

So you are not going to get answers to those questions. I asked Senators Schumer and Pryor to work together with a group of moderates and progressives. Everyone thought it’s an impossible job. But these two fine senators have done an outstanding job of leading these two groups of people. Everyone knows who the 10 are, they have worked very hard for days now. This is a consensus that will help ensure the American people win in a couple of different ways. One, insurance companies will certainly have more competition and two, the American people will certainly have more choices. I already know all 60 senators in my caucus don’t agree on every piece of the merger. I know that we have sent over there to CBO, or will send to them tomorrow, not everyone is going to agree to every piece that we have sent over there. But that doesn’t mean that we disagree on what we sent there.

I applaud and congratulate the 10 senators led by Schumer and Pryor. I think it’s important to mention their names, Brown, Carper, Feingold, Carper, Harkin, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson, Rockefeller. As I have indicated, we can’t disclose the details of what we have done, but believe me we have got something that is good and I think is very, for us, it moves this bill way down the road.

Let me just say, we have seen all kinds of articles in newspapers that Senator Schumer, Senator Pryor, I have said things, other parts of the tent, as Elmendorf and I talked tonight, all the things you have read in the newspapers, all the things you have read in the newspapers. The public option is gone. It’s not true. Ok. Everyone understand that. So we are not going into detail. But you have heard to this point, you could be surprised what we’ve sent to CBO.


Here’s an official written statement that Reid’s office released later on the compromise:

I asked Senators Schumer and Pryor to work with some of the most moderate and most progressive members of our diverse caucus, and tonight they have come to a consensus.

It is a consensus that includes a public option and will help ensure the American people win in two ways: one, insurance companies will face more competition, and two, the American people will have more choices.

I know not all 10 Senators in the room agree on every single detail of this, nor will all 60 members of my caucus. But I know we all appreciate the hard work that these progressives and moderates have done to move this historic debate forward.

I want to thank Senators Schumer, Pryor, Brown, Carper, Feingold, Harkin, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Rockefeller for working together for the greater good and never losing sight of our shared goal: making it possible for every American to afford to live a healthy life.

As is long-standing practice, we do not disclose details of any proposal before the Congressional Budget Office has a chance to evaluate it. We will wait for that to happen, but in the meantime, tonight we are confident.”



  • Dec 9th, 2009 at 10:50 am

    The public option is obviously as dead as a doornail. My advice to the progressives is to take what they can get now.

    I don’t know what kind of health care reform will come out of this session, but I strongly suspect it won’t be much. There is, however a silver lining behind this very dark cloud. I am reminded of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of it, there really isn’t a hell of a lot to remember about it; a mere pittance, really – a scrap of leftovers tossed out to “American Negros” (in the parlance of the age) in order to appease them. But it made the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – the one we remember – all the more easier seven years later.

    We’ll live to fight another day.

    Tom Degan

    • | 43#
      Dec 9th, 2009 at 11:43 am

      I think you’re right — the public option is dead, and they’re all now just scrambling around to put a good face on it.

      Obama could have pushed a public option through if he’d approached it differently – perhaps tackled this legislation right out of the gate (last spring when he still had the wind at his back), and if he showed more leadership about what he defined as legitimate health care reform. For a popular President with a public mandate to just punt to Congress on his most important legislative initiative is just weak.

      And the Blue Dogs will hopefully pay with tough primaries in the next elections.

      Makes you lose a bit of faith that our government can still serve the people.