Senate Whip Count: 45 Public Option Supporters!

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:03


Update 2: New information posted on Thursday, August 27th

(Special thanks to Sujat Rajiv Parikh--Chris)

Update: I miscounted. There are only 45 public option supporters on the chart. That is still close though.

Can you feel the new momentum for the public option?

Earlier in the week, the Progressive Block's "revolt" on comments by Kathleen Sebelius seems to be making the Congressional leadership and White House back down from compromising on the public option.  Late last night, it appears that Republican bad-faith from chief Republican Senate negotiator Charles Grassley, combined with attacks on co-ops from the RNC, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Senate Minority Whip John Kyl, seem to have made the administration decide they aren't going to seek Republican votes on health care reform anymore.

Now, this morning, I have even more good news. The latest Senate whip count confirms 46 Senators in favor of a public option, up from 43 last week, and only four away from enough to pass it into law! Last night, two diligent readers sent in links showing Senators Tim Johnson, Herb Kohl, and Amy Klobuchar (HCAN pledge signer) are in favor of the public option. The new whip count chart can be found in the extended entry.

Here is the strategy, summarized as quickly as I can:

  1. Hold the Progressive Block in the House, keeping the public option alive.(So far, so good)

  2. Get 50 Senators on record supporting the public option. (46 down, 4 to go)

  3. Maintain the threat of reconciliation. No one elected the Senate parliamentarian, and the people who were elected to run the Senate (you know, Democrats) can always hire a different Senate parliamentarian. There is precedent for doing just that. Process arguments are just opposition by another name.

  4. While holding the line on 1, 2 and 3, use any and all carrots and sticks convince the other ten Democratic Senators not to filibuster health care reform, even if they intend to vote against it final passage.

  5. Pass health care reform with a public option into law.
This isn't a full-proof strategy, but if someone has a better idea, I'd like to hear it. If we have 50 Senators, along with an immobile Progressive Block in the House, then the only thing preventing health care reform from passing will be Democratic Senators who intend to filibuster it. We can do this. We are doing this. Here is how you can help:

Soon, we are going to roll out a major action to get the Senate over 50 on the public option. Stay tuned.

Whip count chart in the extended entry.

Chris Bowers :: Senate Whip Count: 45 Public Option Supporters!
Senate Public Option Whip Chart
63 Potential Supporters
Yes: 44
Won't vote against: 1
Maybe: 15
No: 2

STATE/SENATOR Public Option? Available Day One? Nationally Available? Can Bargain for Rates?
AK - Begich (D) Maybe (via email) Maybe (via email) Maybe (via email) Maybe (via email)
AR - Lincoln (D) Maybe Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
AR - Pryor (D) Maybe Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
CA - Boxer (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
CA - Feinstein (D) Yes Yes Maybe Dodges (via email)
CO - Bennet (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Maybe Dodges (via email)
CO - Udall (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Maybe Dodges (via email)
CT- Dodd (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill)
CT - Lieberman (I) No Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
DE - Carper (D) Maybe
DE - Kaufman (D) Yes
FL - Bill Nelson (D) Maybe (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
GA - Isakson (R) Maybe Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
HI - Akaka (D) Yes
HI - Inouye (D) Yes
IA - Harkin (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill)
IL - Burris (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
IL - Durbin (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
IN - Bayh (D) Maybe Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
LA - Landrieu (D) Maybe No No No
MA - Kerry (D) Yes Yes Yes Yes
MA - Kennedy (D) Win one for Ted
MD - Cardin (D) Yes Yes Yes Yes
MD - Mikulski (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill)
ME - Collins (R) No Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
ME - Snowe (R) Maybe
MI - Levin (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
MI - Stabenow (D) Yes
MN - Franken (D) Yes
MN - Klobuchar (D) Yes
MO - McCaskill (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
MT - Baucus (D) Maybe
MT - Tester (D) Maybe Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
NC - Hagan (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill)
ND - Conrad (D) Maybe Yes No Yes
ND - Dorgan (D) Yes Maybe Yes Yes
NE - Ben Nelson (D) Maybe
NH - Shaheen (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
NJ - Lautenberg (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
NJ - Menendez (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
NM - Bingaman (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill)
NM - Udall (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
NV - Reid (D) Yes
NY - Gillibrand (D) Yes Yes Yes Yes
NY - Schumer (D) Yes Yes Yes
OH - Brown (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill)
OR - Merkley (D) Yes Yes (via email) Yes (via email) Yes (via email)
OR - Wyden (D) Maybe Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
PA - Casey (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill)
PA - Specter (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
RI - Reed (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill)
RI - Whitehouse (D) Yes
SD - Johnson (D) Yes Unknown Yes Yes
VA - Warner (D) Won't Vote Against Dodges (via email) No Dodges (via email)
VA - Webb (D) Yes
VT - Leahy (D) Yes
VT - Sanders (I) Yes Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill)
WA - Cantwell (D) Yes Yes Yes Yes
WA - Murray (D) Yes Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill) Yes (supporting HELP bill))
WI - Feingold (D) Yes Yes Yes Yes
WI - Kohl (D) Yes Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email) Dodges (via email)
WV - Byrd (D) Maybe (via email)
WV - Rockefeller (D) Yes Yes


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So, what was Sen. Conrads talking about? (0.00 / 0)
Didn't he tell us the numbers aren't there? Was he deliberately spinning the public, in order to make his co-op stuff look more interesting, or didn't he really know any better?
Imho the Senator should provide an explanation now!

We can't read his mind (4.00 / 1)
We can't read his mind, but Conrad has said some strange things so far. It is possible that he just wants to be the guy who ends up forging the final deal. It is possible he has 41 hard "no's" on cloture. It is possible he was just making shit up.

Hard to say. But what I do now is that we are getting close here. Once we get to 50 in the Senate, everything changes.


[ Parent ]
Do you see a chance in convincing him to join? (0.00 / 0)
I see he is listed as maybe, but he has put a lot of work into the co-op "compromise", and it certainly must be hard to abandon this. Is there a way to build a bridge for him, saving his face?

Oh, and what about Sen. Byrd? Is it possible he will be there to provide his vote? I can't imagine him voting against a reform that the majority of the party supports. This merited veteran sure wouldn't let his party down!


[ Parent ]
Wyden, Tester, Warner (4.00 / 6)
Those seem like the lowest-hanging fruit to me, or at least the ones where netroots folks have the best connections/leverage.

Me | My Work | Future Majority

Thanks for this, Chris (4.00 / 3)
I've been feeling really demoralized about health care.  It felt good to be able to do a couple of small things, including thanking my Rep., Rush Holt for standing firm on the public option.  I worked on Rush's first campaign, and he was a single-payer supporter then.  He's frustrated me some since, but seems to have solidified as his seat got safer.

Who initiates what's in reconciliation? (0.00 / 0)
Is is the budget committee, parliamentarian, majority leader...who is it?

Also, another procedural question: who determines who sits on a conference committee? I think that's a very crucial piece of this that hasn't been mentioned yet.

Netroots for Gore


re (0.00 / 0)
Also, another procedural question: who determines who sits on a conference committee? I think that's a very crucial piece of this that hasn't been mentioned yet.

I think it's the leadership: reid...

[ Parent ]
What about Byrd and Kennedy? (4.00 / 2)
Do we have any idea if they will be healthy enough to actually show up to vote, and to help block filibusters?

If Kennedy could survive just the trip to the Senate floor, our great lion would insist. (4.00 / 2)
Strom Thurmond was wheeled around congress in a coma for years.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Chris is a "PO or NO" bloc possible in the Senate, can that be worked on? (4.00 / 1)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


Major gap between 4 and 5. (0.00 / 0)
While I agree with the proposed strategy for the most part, I'm still not clear on how we get from 4 to 5.  In particular, I'm wary of a repeat of 1994.  At that time, the House refused to pass anything until the Senate passed something, which the Senate never did.  

Getting 50 Senators on the record for a public option does not ensure that Baucus won't kill the whole damn thing in committee.  If it never makes it out of committee, the pledges to support the public option are meaningless.  What mechanism do we have/propose for forcing the Senate to actually bring a bill to the floor (and here I am not concerned about a filibuster).  

My thought on it is that we need to pressure the House to actually pass their bill, thus forcing the Senate's hand.  Otherwise, it will be far too easy for both houses to say, well, we're going to wait and see what the other house does before we try to really pass something.  They can just keep passing the buck back and forth.  

I think Obama's strategy was to avoid a repeat of '94 by getting the House and Senate involved, and thus making them take ownership by expending time and effort, so that the individual members would be too invested to continue to pass the buck as they did in '94.  I'm just not convinced that such is enough.  

I think it's time we began thinking about a campaign to pressure the Progressive Block to bring an actual bill up for a vote in the House.  Until somebody actually passes something, HCR is hostage to a stalemate.  


re (0.00 / 0)
Getting 50 Senators on the record for a public option does not ensure that Baucus won't kill the whole damn thing in committee.  If it never makes it out of committee, the pledges to support the public option are meaningless.  What mechanism do we have/propose for forcing the Senate to actually bring a bill to the floor (and here I am not concerned about a filibuster).  

I think the committee can be bypassed and the bill be brought to the floor directly?

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/...


[ Parent ]
I am increasingly optimist that we might win (0.00 / 0)
but the polling does worry me.

There a number key variablexsin the Health Care debate that WORSE now than the Clinton plan did in '93 and '94.

According to NBC:
Percentage who think the plan will make their coverage worse: 40%
Percentage who think it will be better: 24%

Compare that to the NYT Poll taken Jan 7 -20, 1994
Will the plan improve your family's health care:
Better 31, worse 20, won't change 45

The key weakness of the Clinton plan was how people viewed its effect on the quality of care.  Even in the early days of the proposal, pluralty's believed that quality would decline.   Thus as early as November 11-14 1993, a by 15 - 30 percent people thought that quality would decline.

Another metric that is not as good as '94
Which is required, minor changes, fundemental changes or a complete rebuild of the system;
In Jan 15-17, 1994, here are the numbers, compared with the same numbers in Nov 93
Minor changes 9 (7)
Fundemental Changes 52 (48)
Complete Rebuild 38 (42)
Versus NBC
Complete Overhall (21, down from 33 in April)
Major Reform (39, essentially unchanged)
Minor reform (31, up from 21 in April)

There is substantially less support for dramatic changed now versus 1994.


Sorry for the typos (0.00 / 0)
which are more numberous than usual....

[ Parent ]
soft support (0.00 / 0)
I believe that Michael Bennett here in Colorado should be considered at best a maybe. His statements in the Denver Post article cited leave him lots of room to claim disingenuously that some other solution besides a public option will work. His response to my e-mail was equally non-committal and wishy-washy. I personally think he'd be happy to try to convince us that a bill that gives medical companies lots of money to spend on information technology is the only reform we need. I think I and the rest of his constituents will need to whip more to ensure his vote.

Quoting his response to me:

We should be open to any and all options... I believe we must invest in cutting-edge medical research to save lives and bring competitive biotechnology jobs to Colorado... I will continue to support legislation to modernize our health care system by encouraging hospitals, nursing facilities, health centers, and physicians to keep investing in information technology, saving both lives and dollars.


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