Senate Whip Count Update: No Democrats Oppose Public Option

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 14:24


Today's whip count update includes anew html chart, a full explanation of the new category created by Senator Mark Warner, and notes that not a single Senate Democrat has come out in full opposition to the public option.

1. New Whip Count Chart
The new whip count chart is up, and can be found in the extended entry.

2. Warner's New Category
As originally reported by Blue Virginia, Senator Mark Warner has confirmed that he will not vote against a public option, and will vote in favor of a public option that holds down the cost of premiums.  While this is not equal to a full statement of triggerless public option support that we had been seeking, as I discussed last night, during our final push to 50, it is good enough to remove Warner from the "maybe" column, and place him in a new category ("won't vote against") that is equivalent to "yes." Let me explain why.

First, a public option will keep down costs, as even opponents of the plan admit. In fact, that is the main argument against a public option--it would offer such low cost health insurance that people would leave private insurers in droves. Second, saying you will not vote against a health care bill with a public option means either that you will vote "yes" when presented with such a bill, or not vote at all. However, not voting on legislation of this historic magnitude is, at best, an extremely remote possibility for any Seantor.

Senators who are sitting on the Max Baucus's Finance Committee are not eligible for this category.  This includes the six "maybes" who are on that committee: Max Baucus, Tom Carper, Kent Conrad, Bill Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Ron Wyden. is because those Senators are still in a position to pass a bill out of that committee without a public option, while Senators not on the Finance Committee are not. If you are in a position to avoid a vote on the public option ever happening, then simply saying you will not vote against a public option isn't good enough for the whip count.

This is why Senator Ron Wyden has not been added to the "won't vote against" / "yes" column. While Senator Wyden has made a statement that is substantively identical to Warner's--he will vote for a public option that keeps down the cost of premiums-since he sits on the Finance Committee, that just isn't good enough.

3. No Democratic Senators Oppose the Public Option
Despite regular claims from Senators like Kent Conrad and Village insiders like George Stephanopoulos that there are not enough votes to pass a public option through the Senate, it is worth noting that not a single Senate Democrat, nor Republican Olympia Snowe, has come out in opposition to the public option.  Our whip count shows that the only three "no" votes in our target universe are Maine Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, plus Connecticut Connecticut for Lieberman Senate Joe Lieberman (that is actually the correct way to describe Lieberman, I believe).  Counting Ted Kennedy's replacement, that still leaves 60 Senators who are either "yes" or "maybe" on the public option.

Given that it is possible to pass a public option through reconciliation, the Senators and Democratic media types making this claim are protecting one or more Democrats who are "no" votes from the wrath of the Democratic rank and file.  Unless claims that there are not enough for the public option are just wrong, then they know specific Democrats who are opposed and are not telling the public who those Democrats are.  This leads one to believe that the Democratic leadership and Democratic elite are once again protecting center-right Democrats from potential accountability to the Democratic base.

The best solution I can think of to this problem is to force a vote on the public option in the Senate. Surely the public option has dominated debate enough, and has enough supporters in the Senate (a public option passed the Senate HELP committee, for crying out loud), that even if a bill without a public option does not go to the floor there will still be an amendment to the bill that makes all Senators record a vote on the public option.  No matter the outcome of this fight, there is no way that any Democratic Senator should be allowed to avoid a vote on the public option.  After everything that grassroots progressives have done for the Democratic Party, that is a bare minimum level of accountability that is required from the leadership and the party as a whole.

The new whip count chart can be found in the extended entry.

Chris Bowers :: Senate Whip Count Update: No Democrats Oppose Public Option

Potential Supporters


Yes: 44
Won't Vote Against: 1
Maybe: 13
No: 3
Vacancies: 1

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)
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) Vacant--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) No
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 talk with staff)
WV - Rockefeller (D) Yes Yes


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Wow! What news! (4.00 / 1)
Perhaps we can hope?

Amendments (4.00 / 1)
While I believe a bill that included a good public option could get 50 votes somewhat easily, I remain skeptical that an amendment for a public option would pass, or that an amendment stripping a public option would fail. Just because you'll vote for a bill including something doesn't mean you'd vote for that thing by itself.

This is not clear thinking. (0.00 / 0)
It is possible to think, at the moment, that without good effort on our part: such as 1) funding and thanking the pledge takers here --> , such as 2) calling the Populist Caucus members (as opposed to the Progressive Caucus who are already strongly on side) who have not yet joined the "line in the sand" Heroes of Congress who will defeat a bill, any bill, without a Robust Public Option, LINK to desmoinsdem's wonderful, map filled, intelligent set of instructions to bring them onside, and such as 3) calling your Senator to urge a vote and a commitment to the public option, then fax them, then email them and then contact all your friends and relatives and organizations you know to do the same three things, -- that we might not succeed at this, its possible to think that. But it isnt likely.

And with your effort it is less likely to fail. The growth of support is amazing, the strength of the Progressive Caucus' vow to DEFEAT any bill, ANY BILL, that does not contain a robust Public Option (because it would be a crime to pass the "Edward M Kennedy American Health Act 2009" if it sucked. And it would be crazy and self defeating to not pass a bill that had 81% support with the public and a super majority of Republicans who support it.

Did you notice that in just a few days, over 400,000 dollars have been raised to support, thank and encourage the Progressive Caucus' promise to defeat any bill that does not contain a Robust Public Option? $400,000!

--

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


[ Parent ]
Whoa, I wasn't advocating not doing anything. (0.00 / 0)
Just talking about what would happen with votes if they voted now. If anything I thought I was advocating for doing more.

[ Parent ]
Please don't think I was criticizing, I was saying that we Can do it. (0.00 / 0)
I didnt want any skepticisim to equal inaction or the blues. This is a fight we can win, we are winning, and it came from here, here at openleft, on the Bloggertanian national orgs of FDL and TPM and from ordinary folks here in the street, on the wire and on the phones.

We are winning. We will win. This is what America should look like. Active, ready and confidently wary.

Thanks for your help BTW, thanks.

--

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


[ Parent ]
I'm still skeptical. (0.00 / 0)
I still have to disagree with your conclusion regarding how to count any Senator saying he or she "will not vote against" a public option.  If that can really be considered the same as "will vote for," and if it's true as you claim that no Senator will refuse to vote on this issue, then it shouldn't be at all difficult for any of them to state explicitly that they "will vote for" a public option.  There's no reason not to get them to make that statement unless we're trying to fool ourselves, and no Senator has anything to lose unless they're trying to be disingenuous.

Why should we count it if they're not willing to say it?

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


Dont be sceptical, be concerned enough to work some phones. (0.00 / 0)
This is one place to startOrganizing for America, because they have just started a National tour to explain and build support across the country, in every state in ewvery town and village, especially if you get involved (thanks in advance by the way).

There are more ways too: moveon.org and Gov. Howard Dean's Democracy for America are working hard too.

http://standwithdrdean.com/ is another.

--

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


[ Parent ]
Missing Link to Organizing for America (the Presidents action organization) (0.00 / 0)
Organizing for America

--

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


[ Parent ]
You're reading too much into my comment. (0.00 / 0)
I limited my comment to the subject at hand (whip counting) and meant nothing more by it.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
I honestly wasn't suggesting you were against more work. (0.00 / 0)
I was merely offering ways to help make the Bill happen, for everyone reading these posts.

Every opportunity to push has to be taken. People have to start thinking like citizens, like they have a responsibility to make stuff happen in their democracy, all the time.

I urge everyone to recognize their power and responsibility to do the best we can, all the time.

--

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


[ Parent ]
Oh, I agree. (4.00 / 1)
In a democracy, the people -- all the people -- are the government.  If we don't act and take responsibility, then we no longer have a democracy.

People have become complacent, and that complacency has led to corruption among our elected representatives.  That corruption is self-reinforcing, making it very difficult to fight against.  It's a tough row to hoe, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.

As Jason Nesmith (played by Tim Allen) said in Galaxy Quest, "never give up; never surrender!"

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
"The show has been cancelled... but the adventure is just beginning." (0.00 / 0)
Yeah guess we're just going to have to do it ourselves.

"The show must go on."
"Damn you!"

--

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


[ Parent ]
Landrieu is a lost cause (0.00 / 0)
this from two days ago:
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo...
Asked under what circumstances she would support a public option, Landrieu responded, "[v]ery few, if any. I'd prefer a private market-based approach to any health care reform that would extend coverage," according to the Monroe News Star.


Count not that easy (0.00 / 0)
First,

Kennedy's replacement will not come for 5 months.  Yes I know they are talking about changing the law, however it will be immediately challenged to the USSC.  
You see the 145-160 days start counting the DAY a Senator dies.
Therefore, the election has already STARTED.  And you cannot change the rules of an election in the MIDDLE of an election.
Best they can do is change the law for the NEXT vacancy.

Personally, I think that is a weak argument.  But it IS strong enough to get it's day in court all the way up to the USSC.  Which will take ... ohh ... how long did it take Franken?
The election is likely to be OVER before the court case.

Second,

Reconciliation is a dead issue.
Whatever is passed via reconciliation can and WILL be canceled via reconciliation.
Since the bill will not take effect until 2013, if the Republicans regain control of House, Senate, and White House, Pres. Obama could be swearing in his replacement knowing that waiting for the new President will be a bill canceling health Care reform, with no filibuster.  It was passed via budget reconciliation.

That means, and yes most in Washington know this, that if budget reconciliation is used, that it is an outright declaration of war on all parties and whatever laws need to be passed to make being a registered member of any party but the Democratic party must and will be passed.
Because, if it is so important to utilize budget reconciliation to pass, then it is too important to trust the stupid American voters to not have another "2004 moment".

Single-Party rule by law thus becomes mandatory.


Do you have a link for this odd thinking? (0.00 / 0)
Therefore, the election has already STARTED.  And you cannot change the rules of an election in the MIDDLE of an election.

There is NO effect of a temporary appointment on an election, esp. since it is stipulated that the temp appointment, which the law for is moving through the legislature as we speak, MAY NOT run in the election.

Wow, I just read the rest of your post and realized you dont have any links, just wild opinions. So really never mind.

--

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


[ Parent ]
links not always needed (0.00 / 0)
Specifically,

How would "what is passed via budget reconciliation can and will be canceled via budget reconciliation" need a link?

It is rather obvious.

The reasoning for challenge is mostly postings on sites like this and carry little weight other than pointing out there WILL be court challenges.  You know it, I know it, everyone knows it.
They won't care if they win.  Delay is enough.

And regarding the appt ... they may not run in an election is without a DOUBT unconstitutional.

"U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995)[1], was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states cannot impose qualifications for prospective members of the U.S. Congress stricter than those specified in the Constitution ..."

The citation IS inc. v. Thornton which you can look up.
but if you are lazy ...
http://www.law.cornell.edu/sup... is as good of a source as any.

That being the case, any law by Mass BARRING the appointee from running, is unconstitutional.  That would be creating a qualification `... STRICTER than ...
 Which could have the whole law thrown out on its own.


[ Parent ]
The chance of Health Reform being repealed once passed (0.00 / 0)
is both laughable and thrilling. I can see George W. Bush right now stomping his feet over and over, demanding that the Republicans help him overturn and privatize Social Security. Standing near him is GOP Leader Steele looking forward to the time he can use Medicare, and the peoples' love for it, as a way to attack health reform. "Medicare is unconstitutional! We are going to protect it!"

Oh yeah, once passed, health reform has mere days before its repealed, as the republicans mount a huge campaign to send everyone back to "I'm sorry you had pimples when you were a child, we can't cover that heart bypass". So yeah, can't wait.

Its going to pass in reconciliation, unless you know something about Republicans suddenly coming online and saving their asses and promising to vote for it on the floor, that we don't know, then its going to be passed democratically, with a vote.

The link about the silly confluence between an appointment and an election is still needed. The appointment will be made. The Senate will seat the appointed, the Senator will have a vote. That's just the way its going to happen. OK?

The special election will happen, the Governor will ratify the vote, appoint the Senator, she will be seated, she will vote. This is the way it will happen. Unless its a guy. Then He will vote. Ask Governor Palin if she is about to be forced to continue sitting as Governor.

If you are saying there will always be a challenge, from now on, from Republicans, on every election. Well I think that will work out well for them at the polls. Very well. They should do that. They should. And they should make some remarks about how racist JSCOTUS Sotomayor is too.

"We are the Republicans, it doesn't matter if you vote for us, we are going to overturn elections in court from now on. It worked for Bush!"

I so hope you are right. Please have pull in the Republican Party. Use your power to pull this off!

--

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


[ Parent ]
I think its a mistake (4.00 / 1)
to create a new category for Warner et al. The whole point of this exercise is to lock them in to taking a position we agree with.

And since, as our illustrious SML Reid demonstrated just today, there are numerous definitions of "public option", then just saying that you won't vote against a PO is not saying much.


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