Harry Reid's big press conference on the merged Senate health care bill is set to begin at 3:15 p.m., eastern. Reportedly, he will announce that an opt-out public option will be included in the bill.
Given this news, it certainly seems as though Reid has managed to acquire 60 votes for cloture on a health care bill with the opt-out public option. This assessment is supported by recent statements from Democratic Senators, all of whom have left the door open to cloture on a health care bill with an opt-out public option.
Here is the latest Senate whip count:
Given all of this, it now seems entirely possible that Reid has 60 votes for cloture on a health care bill with an opt-out public option. We will find out more in a few minutes, but he may very well have pulled this off.
This is an open thread fore Reid's press conference.
Update: Reid just announced that the opt-out will be in the bill. Claims there is consensus within the Democratic caucus on this matter.
Now, the campaign is no longer about whether or not there will be a public option, but what type of public option there will be. A big step forward.
Update 2: Reid claims that once the bill is scored by the CBO, he believes there will be 60 votes for cloture. While there are many dueling claims on that front right now, this post at least provides one plausible supporting justification for that claim.
Update 3: Press conference is over. The bill will apparently have both a public option and a co-op. Not sure what to make of that. Will investigate.
Update 4: Great notes from commenter ai002h:
-Including Optout PO with support of the WH, and Baucus, which eliminates him as a no vote, much less a filibuster threat (which was far fetched to begin with)
-States will able to optout in 2014, although from his wording it could be they have UNTIL 2014 to Optout, at which time the Optout would presumably no longer be available to states
-Not getting the trigger scored by CBO, which probably means Reid is not seriously looking at it
-Says he hasn't asked the WH to pressure any Dems because it hasn't been necessary, and that 60 votes allows them a certain comfort level to pursue this strategy.
-Says Snowe doesn't like ANY PO, so they'll just have to move forward and hope that she'll join in later in the process. Basically they're getting ready to go without her.
-There will be a Coop in the bill, they're just preserving what was already in the Finance, which is fine since many of us are OK with Coops alongside the PO.
This certainly seems like a very, very big victory.